Raise the bar beyond evaluations; seek alignment

This week, we posted a terrific article called “Evaluating the executive director” by Jan Masaoka. While I consider myself lucky to have served on boards where the ED review was faithfully executed every year, I know many colleagues who have experienced otherwise. Unfortunately, many executive directors go “un-reviewed” for long periods of time, according to Masaoka. She also shares that the most important reason to conduct a review of your executive director is to get on the same page with the board.

This month’s Page to Practice™ book summary called The Three Laws of Performance by Zaffron and Logan speaks to the same point. Performance is heightened when a team shares the same view of their circumstances. The inherent challenge is that our life experiences alter how things occur to us individually. Additionally, our performance has a tendency to fulfill what the authors call a personal “default future” unless we make the effort to calibrate our perceptions with coworkers and rewrite a future everyone wants.

For example, early in the book, Zaffron and Logan explain how the newly appointed CEO, Brad Mills, “transforms an impossible situation” at Lonmin (a publicly traded company in South Africa) by changing how the situation “occurred” to thousands of his employees. The authors explain that, “the Three Laws of Performance is the relationship between how a situation occurs and the actions that are naturally correlated. By ‘occur’ we don’t merely mean how a situation is perceived. We also include the significance and meaningfulness that comes with the experience of the situation. The breakthrough comes from using these ideas to shift how situations occur, allowing for powerful new actions to naturally emerge. In real life situations, people can’t try to remember what actions to take. Life is like a tennis ball coming over a net at 100 miles per hour. For a professional tennis player, the movement of the ball occurs as ‘hittable.’ For most people, it would occur as a blur. Shifting how situations occur for people is akin to having a tennis ball that used to occur as a blur occur as hittable.

For those of you who sit on a nonprofit board, consider the importance of evaluating your ED to gain mutual alignment. By do so, you’ll also be ensuring that your ED’s performance will circumvent a “default future” and follow the future you collaboratively rewrite together.

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