Bestselling author Ram Charan has written a most helpful book for corporate business boards where a company’s trustees are often made up of CEOs from other corporations. It is titled Owning Up: The 14 QUESTIONS Every Board Member Needs to Ask. While some of the questions and especially their answers really center about a business environment, the book nonetheless offers helpful insights for nonprofit leaders and their boards.

In my last words written in this space, I talked about conversations, and that there are issues around which board members need to talk about as part of their leadership responsibilities. I suggested that most of these begin with some kind of words that usually begin a question.

For now, let’s simply take a look at Charan’s 14 questions. Perhaps that will be enough to peak your interest in creating your own set of questions. Or you may want to pick up Charan’s book because of his promised helpful insights. Here are the questions:

  1. Is our board composition right for the challenge?
  2. Are we addressing the risks that could send our company over the cliff?
  3. Are we prepared to do our job well when a crisis erupts?
  4. Are we will prepared to name our next CEO?
  5. Does our board really own the company’s strategy?
  6. How can we get the information we need to govern well?
  7. How can our Board get CEO compensation right?
  8. Why do we need a lead director anyway?
  9. Is our governance committee best of breed?
  10. How do we get the most value out of our limited time?
  11. How can executive sessions help the board own up?
  12. How can our board self-evaluation improve our functioning and our output?
  13. How do we stop from micromanaging?
  14. How prepared are we to work with activist shareholders and their proxies?

That’s quite a set of questions. You may have already identified two or three your board needs to talk about. May your conversations be productive.

For more information be sure to check out my book Board Essentials: 12 Best Practices of Nonprofit Boards

About Dave Coleman

Dave Coleman Principal / Consultant Phone: 253-237-4118 After many years of nonprofit leadership and the privilege of getting to know hundreds of organizations through my work with the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, I am pleased to offer my services to you at BoardTrek Nonprofit Consulting. Our small Pacific Northwest based company is focused on helping guide nonprofit organizations and their leaders into the future by offering our services in board governance, strategic planning, leadership development and organizational change. Always feel free to contact me with your thoughts and questions.
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