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Many find sports to be a good source for life lessons and so I found the following interview in the Washington Post and by Howard C. Fero, the co-author of “Lead Me Out to the Ballgame: Stories and Strategies to Develop Major League Leadership” and an executive coach and director of graduate leadership programs at Albertus Magnus College in Connecticut quite useful and pertinent for the many folks who serve as the chair of their nonprofit board. Fero spoke with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.

Fero describes his leadership model as follows:

We came up with 10 dimensions (or bases) of leadership after interviewing more than 100 Major League Baseball managers, players and executives. The first base is find your passion. As a leader, you need to show everybody else how excited and enthusiastic you are about whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish. The second base is leading by example. The next base deals with respect and trust. You have to generate trust and respect from the people on your team and also you have to be able to give it back. The fourth base is know your people, whether it’s the utility player, the person who works in the back office or the star salesperson — and know what it is that drives each one of them. The other bases are cultivating relationships, supporting your people, communication, knowing your game, fostering teamwork and creating a winning culture.

I do like these dimensions with passion and leading by example (numbers one and two) perfectly applicable to nonprofit board chairs. Is it not often that the path to selecting a chair is demonstrated passion and pursuit of that passion? Certainly respect and trust, while I'm not sure they would have been third for me, rank very highly and again, passively or actively, represent criteria I would observe as essential to the board members who choose their chair.

And, while I would like to think that chairs do know their people, (this is akin of course to Jim Collins' getting the right people on the bus), I believe chairs could do a lot more with this area. And with the remaining six "dimensions" absolutely, again, not necessarily in this order, but I believe all six dimensions to be essential to being an effective chair.

Good stuff!

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