What Is The Level of Your Nonprofit Board’s Behavioral Quotient (BQ)?
By: Eugene Fram
Most viewers will have a working knowledge of Intelligence Quotient (IQ), a predictor of academic achievement or Emotional Intelligence (EI), an assessment of a person’s social skills and intelligence.
I would like to suggest that nonprofit boards, as a team, assess their behavioral intelligence (BQ). BQ involves the acknowledgment that how leaders behave will directly impact the success of the organizations they lead. Following are some critical BQ questions for the board team.* Answering all these questions openly will enable a board to develop its own BQ.
• Do the directors have the ability to persevere toward goals and to help find paths to reach them? Does the organization have realistic financial prospects? Is a viable strategic plan in place?
• Does the board have the confidence that the management and staff, while working hard, will yield results? Is the management and staff a group of professionals or individual “clock watchers”?
• How has the board in the past assisted the management and staff to overcome “bumps in the road” or crises?
• Is the board optimistic about the prospects of the nonprofit? Has it overtly conveyed its confidence to the management and staff? Is there sufficient social or professional contact between the board and staff?
Following are real world examples of boards with high and low BQ scores:
The board hired a new ED to replace a stable non-progressive person who served for more than 20 years. The ED began with an authoritarian style, generating many staff complaints. The board became divided on whether to terminate the ED immediately or to give him a second chance to mend his style. A majority of the board voted for the latter alternative. In the meantime, a union hearing about the board division, and subsequent turmoil, solicited the professional staff to call for union representation. Final outcome: The board terminated the ED when he continued his divisive style, and the professional staff voted for union representation. It was a board with a low BQ.
Persons with a liberal political persuasion dominated a national board with about 30 directors. However, when it came to occasional discussions where political philosophy might become involved, the discussions were civil, sometimes even jovial. Both sides knew that the function of the board was to promote the success of the organization, not to highlight a political view. Final outcome: For the last 15 years, the organization has successfully increased its membership and now serves a number of different constituencies. All board views were respected and communicated to management and staff. The board had a high BQ.
Nonprofit boards need to acknowledge that there is a BQ component to their activities. How they behave as a group internally and how they interact individually when in a community or industry setting can have a direct bearing on the success of the nonprofit. Conversely, a few negative words about the board or especially the management might do significant harm.
Assessing a board’s BQ can be a giant step in the right direction to helping the board more realistically serve the organization.
* Ted Coine & Shawn Murphy (2013) “How a Leader’s Behavior Affects Team Members,” Switch and Shift.com, July 24th.