Question: “I’m the chief exec of a small charity and we have a new chairman of the board who constantly wants to interfere in the running of the charity. I’m at the stage where I dread taking his phone calls. What can I do?” Hugh.
Answer: Ah, the enthusiasm of a new entrant can always ruffle feathers, especially when they’re seen as interfering. Instead of embracing his interest as an asset that can be nurtured, you’ve allowed a relationship to develop which is potentially damaging. That may sound harsh but as an experienced chief exec you should have plenty of experience of dealing with volunteers, understanding their motivators and getting the best from them. You’ve decidedly not managed to do that in this case, so why is that?
Analyse your own reaction to the new chairman. Are you feeling threatened by his involvement and if so why? Is it your position as top dog that’s being threatened or the chance that you might be thought to not being up to the job? They are common fears when a new “boss” arrives. If it’s more than that then is it something about a clash of personalities or values? Whatever it may be, you have to be clear about why you’re reacting as you are before you can take the next step.
Once you’ve addressed those, reframe the problem. His involvement allows you to look critically at the charity, revealing opportunities to improve operations and enhance sustainability. Part of that process is improving his skills and understanding by sourcing training on the role of a chairman: his responsibilities and also what he can and cannot do. The Charities Commission provide some useful publications and why not use this as an opportunity to refresh all of the trustees’ knowledge. That way everyone benefits.
Laura Murphy is the founder of mtc2 ltd, a management consultancy, training and coaching company. Laura is an organisation development specialist and business coach. If you have a problem then contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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