CASE STORY - Leadership Development
Holly is the Executive Director of a women’s breast cancer center. She met Dennis through a mutual friend at a baseball game. Also introduced at the game were the board chair and another key board member.
With the support of her board, Holly asked Dennis to serve as her executive mentor. The goal was to improve her leadership ability. Holly felt that she was not getting the support she needed from her board and had recently received some negative comments during her performance review that were very upsetting. Holly wanted outside help in resolving the issues she was having with several board members. Dennis met privately with Holly to ascertain the issues and found her to be very likeable and direct with her communication.
As part of Dennis’ engagement, he initially met with each member of the management team and the Board of Directors. It was clear that the results achieved by Holly in fundraising and community relations were outstanding. Still, there were negative comments from a few board members. There was also a great deal of confusion over the role of the board chair, the board members, and their expectations of the Executive Director.
Dennis met with the Holly and the board chair to share his observations and recommendations. They agreed with Dennis’ suggestion that they both could benefit from “coaching.” Together, Dennis and the agency:
- Established a set of goals for Holly, the board chair and the entire board
- Defined the roles and responsibilities of everyone in the organization
- Arranged for Dennis to hold subsequent meetings with Holly and her board chair twice a month
- Focused on board governance and best practices
- Developed an effective performance evaluation template for Holly that would be based on goals and not personal innuendos
As a result, the board became more educated about their responsibilities. They transitioned from a founding board to a governance board. With that, Holly’s leadership style and confidence quickly emerged.
The board made dramatic changes over the course of a year. Some members resigned and new members were appointed. The board stopped micromanaging Holly, which allowed her the opportunity to take charge and demonstrate her true leadership ability. Also, the board chair resigned to pursue a new business opportunity, making room for a new chair -- a breast cancer survivor.
Holly has dramatically increased her leadership potential. She knows who she is and is a tremendous asset to her organization. The new board chair took the helm and created a very positive environment for everyone to work in. Holly and the new board chair immediately developed a high level of rapport and working relationship. Today, Holly feels more respected and supported by the board, which now understands the difference between their respective roles and responsibilities. The staff has bought into a new vision as well.