Nice guy syndrome

Nonprofit Boardroom Elephants and the ‘Nice Guy’ Syndrome: A Complex Problem

Nonprofit Boardroom Elephants and the ‘Nice Guy’ Syndrome: A Complex Problem

By: Eugene Fram

An updated and revised viewer favorite post

At coffee a friend serving on a nonprofit board reported plans to resign from the board shortly. His complaints centered on the board’s unwillingness to take critical actions necessary to help the organization grow.

In specific, the board failed to take any action to remove a director who wasn’t attending meetings, but he refused to resign. His term had another year to go, and the board had a bylaws obligation to summarily remove him from the board. However, a majority of directors decided such action would hurt the director’s feelings. They were unwittingly accepting the “nice-guy” approach in place of taking professional action.

In another instance the board refused to sue a local contractor who did not perform as agreed. The “elephant” was that the board didn’t think that legally challenging a local person was appropriate, an issue raised by an influential director. However, nobody informed the group that in being “nice guys,” they could become legally liable, if somebody became injured as a result of their inaction.

Over the years, I have observed many boards with elephants around that have caused significant problems to a nonprofit organization. Some include: (more…)

The Executive Session: an underused forum for Nonprofit Boards?

The Executive Session: an underused forum for Nonprofit Boards?

By: Eugene Fram

Nonprofit boards have always used “executive sessions” to advantage. Meeting without the presence of management offers the opportunity for directors to openly discuss such topics as audit committee concerns, CEO compensation and the unexpected demands of terminations or succession. Prior to the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley I felt that such privately held meetings should be held infrequently.

However, the nonprofit governance environment of the 21st century has convinced me, and many others, that more frequent utilization of the ES can have benefits for the nonprofit. (more…)

Nonprofit Audit Committee Members Must Take Vigorous Actions

Nonprofit Audit Committee Members Must Take Vigorous Actions

By: Eugene Fram

Many nonprofit board members overtly adopt a “nice guy” syndrome. Because of their community or industry connections, they inherently avoid internal or external conflict and consciously sweep red flags under the rug. (Remember Penn State.) (more…)