A Lesson for Nonprofit Boards and Executive Directors from Uber

Nonprofit Boards and Executive Directors Learn from Uber

The fact that Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, has resigned is a major headline this week.  The CEO, has been under fire for what the New York Times reported. “The company has been exposed this year as having a workplace culture that included sexual harassment and discrimination, and it has pushed the envelope in dealing with law enforcement and even partners. That tone was set by Mr. Kalanick, who has aggressively turned the company into the world’s dominant ride-hailing service and upended the transportation industry around the globe.” What lesson can nonprofit boards and executive directors learn from this?

The very thing that disrupted an industry – his drive, crassness, rules don’t apply attitude – are now his liabilities. Of course, some would say that he could have done it without the sexual harassment and discrimination in the culture, but that’s a whole other article. If we can put that to the side, temporarily (hopefully the legal system will not follow suit), it reminds me of the adage about marriage – the same thing you love about your spouse when you marry them may annoy you beyond words years down the line.

For nonprofit leaders, the executive director or board members, there can be similar changes in the appreciation of their skills – although usually less dramatic. Want some examples?

  • A board chair that helped you through an executive director transition may be restricting the capabilities of the new executive director who is now in place.
  • An executive director or director of development who guided you through years of stability and modest growth might not be the right person to lead you through a new fundraising campaign aimed at doubling your annual fund.
  • Board members who helped you raise money when you didn’t have systems in place might not be the best people to help you when you want to implement formal processes.

In other words, leadership should not stay on indefinitely. We are not suggesting you go out and fire everyone, but it might be time for an assessment or leadership re-appraisal.

If you would like to assess your staff we can help you by:

A staff appraisal – email us to start your assessment today

Executive search – click here to read about our process

Teaching additional skills – click here to learn about our nonprofit leadership development offerings