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Chess masterEllis Carter, a nonprofit attorney who authors the popular Charity Lawyer blog, offers another "Top 10" list for nonprofit leaders (read about her last list here).

Late last year, Carter posted Top 10 Smart Moves Great Nonprofit CEOs Make (From a Lawyer's Perspective), which an interesting blend of legal advice and leadership wisdom that may benefit leaders in theological education.

Some of her suggestions to the CEOs are plain old common sense. For example, a good CEO:

1. Asks forgiveness, not permission. In this case, that means that the president and board maintain a proper division of duties.

2. Assembles a trusted team of professional advisers. That is, the wise executive develops long-term relationships with bankers, lawyers, insurance brokers, and accountants, among others.

7.  Trusts, but verifies. The leader ensures that resources are used wisely, strategically, and legally.

While this list is addressed to CEOs, it also provides implicit advice to board members. Take this example:

10. Doesn't over-rely on pro bono services. "Great CEOs know that you get what you pay for," she says. 

Board members are often selected, in part, for their professional expertise. But that does not mean that each trustee's particular specialty is well suited to the theological school's needs! That's why board members should think carefully about the professional services they offer to the school or the president.

Another example:

6. Expects/asks for a reasonable salary. 

In nonprofits generally, and religious organizations specifically, many leaders offer to sacrifice appropriate compensation for the sake of the cause. But Carter warns that great CEOs know that "if they don't take care of themselves, they can't take care of the nonprofit's business." The board should insist that the president receive a generous and fair salary so that he or she can work with maximum effectiveness in a demanding job.

Read the whole list of "Top 10 Smart Moves" here.


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