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As timing is everything (think summer reading) and a new Star Trek movie has just been released I just happened to come across, Make It So. Make It So, by Wess Roberts and Bill Ross offers leadership lessons from Star Trek The Next Generation (which for those of you who are not Trekkies, is the series with Jean-Luc Picard as the captain of the starship Enterprise).

So, if you would like to combine your thirst for entertaining with educational reading, Make It So (Pocket Books, 1995) may fit the bill. What Roberts and Ross have done is present chapters, vignettes you might say, from the Star Trek series and gleaned from these, management and leadership lessons as relayed in Jean-luc's post-experience journal. As such, the chapters serve as parables for how an effective manager might think and act. The topics covered include: being clear about mission; vision and focus; initiative; competence; communication; politics; symbiosis; interdependence; and, resilience.

While it is clear that a significant portion of Make It So would offer some thinking to nonprofit CEO's, I think there to be some lessons that nonprofit boards, board chairs and committee chairs might also glean. Clearly, being always clear about mission (this is of course one of the fiduciary duties) stands out but the task for board to both establish a vision and be focused no matter the "blips" is an equally important message. Chapters about communications and politics are areas that surround boards and board chairs and the members should, I believe, regularly take the time to understand what is culturally established; what fully engages or disengages, and what collectively leads a board to make positive contributions to and for the organization.

Nonprofit board chairs and committee chairs might also benefit from the chapters on initiative, competence, symbiosis, and, interdependence. For instance, about the topic of interdependence:

one good leader sometimes makes the difference in the success or failure of a mission. The truth is, however, the cooperative, collaborative, and corroborative effort of the entire team is much more likely to result in mission success.

About politics:

no one member or group of members can ever completely prevent others from sowing seeds of fear, doubt, and distrust. Consequently, every member ought to stand prepared to boldly uproot any seeds so sown by any member. Make no mistake, political games never end and are never totally resolved to everyone's satisfaction. Indeed, there is always something that remains unsettled, always something left unsaid, and always someone ready to replace those people exposed for creating dysfunction with the organization.

And, about communications:

Always bear in mind that no matter the means by which messages are given or received, your method of communicating must allow messages to be understood. Indeed, effective communication is the lubricant of effective leadership. ....you can never become an effective leader without being understood or without understanding those upon whom you rely.

In conclusion, if you prefer beefing-up your management and leadership skills through anecdotes and are in the mood for some light but reasonably intriguing science fiction. Make It So may be just the read for you during these uber warm summer days.

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