What is that one essential skill that would make or break your decision to promote someone to senior leadership?
We all know the standard ones of communication, management, strategic planning experience, etc.
But what is that one crucial qualification that would kill the decision for you?
According to Alice Korngold, CEO of consulting firm Korngold Consulting, it rests on whether you have any nonprofit board service experience.
In her blog, Leading Companies for Good on Fast Company earlier this week, she quotes Harold "Terry" McGraw III, the chairman, president and CEO of McGraw-Hill Companies, saying that if he doesn't see board service on the resume, he is "discouraged about the candidate."
He adds, "I want to see how complete a person is. Board participation tells me a lot about someone's interest and experience in teambuilding and openness toward coaching."
His emphasis on nonprofit board service speaks volumes about the kind of experience he is looking for.
What he is getting at is the much larger issue of mentorships and the willingness to train leaders.
And this skill becomes paramount when discussed in the nonprofit sense, as their boards require a lot more determination, drive, and due diligence in supporting the cause. Because it is not about the bottom line, numerical values do not determine most board decisions, thus requiring members to be realistically interested, involved and willing to go the extra mile to further the mission, which can a lot of times include building leadership teams—especially if you are involved since the inception of the nonprofit—and laying down long term strategies.
As Mr. McGraw puts it, "A candidate who doesn't serve on nonprofit boards is underdeveloped," adding that he believes that a CEO must act "like a role model through his/her community service and nonprofit board participation."
However, not every CEO (Read former CEO of Medtronic, Bill George's take on leading in a crisis) sees building and training a supportive team as an inherent part of serving on a board. There can be several reasons for this including their own business being first priority and board service being an extension of brand awareness, philanthropy and for some, necessary networking outside their immediate circle of associates.
But for those of you who do, —a perfect example would be former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy mentoring current chief Ursula Burns— how much does this experience weigh in your final decision, specifically to nonprofits? When forming a team, do you actively look for board experience on the resume? At the same time, do you encourage volunteerism and charity work among your employees and is it tied to bonuses and pay, much like how pro bono work is today integrated at most law firms' compensation packages?
Weigh in on the issue here by leaving a comment, or follow Vault's CSR blog In Good Company on Twitter at @VaultCSR!
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Aman Singh is the Corporate Responsibility Editor at Vault.com. She is a New York University alum and previously wrote for The Wall Street Journal. Her area of work includes corporate diversity practices and sustainability, and how they translate into recruitment and strategic development at Fortune 1000 companies.
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