This piece on Leadership Lessons from Great Family Businesses caught my attention on Twitter last week. I saved it to Pocket and read it yesterday. Key parts:
Only 30% of family businesses last into the second generation; 12% are viable into the third… And yet family-owned or -controlled businesses play a key role in the global economy. They account for an estimated 80% of companies worldwide and are the largest source of long-term employment in most countries. In the United States they employ 60% of workers and create 78% of new jobs.
The piece describes “great family businesses” as having four key traits:
They found that top family-led companies do four key things: establish a baseline of good governance, preserve “family gravity,” identify future leaders from within and outside the family, and bring discipline to their CEO succession.
As I was reading this I instinctively adapted these four traits in my mind to the nonprofit space. I’d adapt them roughly as follows to describe the role of a “great nonprofit boards:”
- create baseline for good governance, with emphasize on term limited service to encourage impact
- continually restate the culture and ethos of the organization
- identity future leaders from within the board’s social and professional network, occasionally going farther afield for the right candidates
- encourage staff discipline in terms of attention to mission, or in cases of volunteer-led nonprofits, focus board committees on operationalizing mission execution