The standard stuff you’ll have heard is how much you will personally enjoy being a trustee, what you will learn from the experience, how it will enrich your life (and CV) and how great it is to have your skills valued. What you might not hear so frequently is the strategic importance of this service: that being a trustee is about leading organisations through an ever-changing environment.
Ian Theodoreson, CFG’s Chair, shared with me the ‘SERVE’ leadership model, based on the book The Secret by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. I think they’ve summed things up beautifully, and the fact that trustees are there to SERVE makes it that much more satisfying!
S is for ‘seeing the future’. Organisations cannot stand still: they have to adapt and develop. When Adrian Randall and his fellow charity FDs founded CFDG, they did so in a landscape without SORP and with limited skills floating around the sector: an environment described as ‘the wild west’. The trustees anticipated that charities would need to professionalise and share knowledge, and recognised that peer-to-peer support would be essential. They saw the future of charity, and they realised the importance of driving up standards.
E is for ‘engaging the right people’. Organisations go through different life stages. The people and skills needed to deliver their charitable objectives will change and adapt. Our recent decision to recruit three new director roles is the next step in CFG’s journey, driven forward with and shaped by trustee involvement. Their input, both into planning the structure of the executive and supporting the recruitment process, will be invaluable.
R is for ‘reinventing continuously’. Had our trustees been content with keeping CFG where it began, we would never have changed our name, amended our membership scheme, embraced a new tone, or reached out beyond our core membership. Nothing that we deliver today is, in context, wildly different to what we’ve always done, but we are always re-evaluating our services and our ambitions, and making adjustments to the direction of travel.
V is for ‘valuing and celebrating success’, something that CFG’s trustees are very good at. They are quick to highlight our achievements, they speak on our behalf, and they recognise and reward the brilliant committed efforts of CFG staff.
E, finally, is for ‘embodying values’. Our trustees past and present, engaged as they are on a daily basis with making the sector the most efficient, transparent, and service-focused it can possibly be, truly enable us to have the progress and profile we benefit from today.
Trustees everywhere, I salute you for your service, and encourage the rest of you to go out and SERVE as a trustee too!
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