Creating or joining a Black organization is one thing. Leading one is another; Leading one effectively is another matter altogether. An important part of the process involves evaluation. By this I refer to an accurate way of determining if we are leading effectively. Without a reliable evaluation method, we have no way of determining where our organizations stand or if they are successful.
This article will attempt to create a very basic form of leadership evaluation using questions in various themes. A more thorough method would involve scoring each section and would establish a range of scores representing poor, average, good and exceptional designations (this method is, as I explained, basic and leaves room for elaboration and expansion). However I do believe this battery of questions can help us evaluate and improve our organizations.
VISION/MISSION: A measurement of how successful we are in communicating our organization purpose and objectives
1. Do we have a clear vision of our purpose and the people we serve?
2. Do we have a clear sense of how we fulfill our purpose?
3. Are both of these clearly worded, written and distributed/taught to our members?
4. Do our members demonstrate an accurate knowledge of the vision and mission?
INTEGRITY: A measurement of the extent to which what our organization does aligns with its stated objectives/values.
1. Do our group meetings, programs/events, decisions, expenditures, and issues we raise/address coincide with, reinforce and advocate our stated vision purpose, and the people we serve?
2. What is our membership’s opinion on the previous question?
3. Are leaders taught to make organizational decisions based on the organization’s vision and mission?
TRAINING: A measurement of how successful we are in building leadership capacity within our organization.
1. Does our group have a formal process for identifying and grooming/mentoring new leadership and building leadership capacity?
2. Does this process work? Do the people we train demonstrate they have the skills, habits and knowledge needed to effectively lead the group?
3. Do we provide hands-on opportunities for such people to grow into effective leaders?
4. Is our training both theoretical and practical?
5. Do we delegate responsibility in ways that develop important leadership skills and experience?
ARCHIVES: Measuring how effective we are in recording, storing, and using our organization’s history.
1. Does our organization have a historian or archivist responsible for recording and storing events and documents?
2. Do we have a way of determining what material is relevant to record and keep?
3. Do we make audiovisual recordings of our programs, speakers and events?
4. Do we use various means of storing important recordings, documents, and photographs (physical file cabinets, online storage)?
5. Does our membership have access to our historical documents?
6. Do we have a system of backing up our files?
7. Are the files and materials we record stored safely?
8. Do we actually use these files in our meetings or leadership training?
9. How organized and easy to search our the files we keep?
OUTREACH: A measurement of how well our organization communicates with other organizations and people
1. Do people in our community whom we serve, know we exist and what services we provide?
2. Are the fliers, articles, advertisements, social media posts, etc. we create to announce our events distributed at least two weeks prior to the event?
3. Do we set clear goals for attendance at our meetings and events?
4. Do we have a standard for determining what makes an event “well” or poorly attended?
5. Do the same people attend our meetings or events, or do we notice a significant number of new faces?
6. Do we rely only on the officers of our organization to do outreach, or do we involve lay members in this process as well?
7. Do we do outreach in our larger community to develop relationships with like-minded groups and people?
GENERAL BODY MEETINGS
1. Do our meetings occur in the same place, time and location, or do these variables change often?
2. Do our meetings start and end when they are supposed to?
3. Are the meetings we convene fun, informative and inspiring?
4. Do we disseminate or post written agendas for each meeting to our members? Do we follow the agenda, or do our meetings often steer off into other matters?
5. Are members given time to voice their opinions or ideas?
6. Is there always a secretary present to record minutes of our meetings?
7. Are meeting minutes posted online, in our office or in a newsletter for members who missed meetings?
8. Do we use our meetings to resolve issues, raise issues, debate ideas, and solicit assistance?
9. If we decide on doing something as an organization, we we set a specific timetable for when tasks should be completed? Do we determine specific people responsible for completing tasks?
10. Can members critique decisions or actions of the organization without being ostracized?
11. Are criticisms or ideas from members actually considered and/or implemented by the leadership?
12. Do leaders debrief after general body meetings?
1. Do organization leaders do what they say, when they say they will?
2. Do leaders submit paperwork or complete important tasks in a timely manner?
3. When leaders communicate with outside people, do they promptly follow-up with those people via phone or email?
4. Are leaders accessible by members (office hours, phone, email, social media)?
5. Do leaders respond to phone calls or emails within one to two business days?
1. Does our organization do events that inform and inspire members?
2. Does our programming reflect the vision and mission of our organization?
3. Do our events duplicate those of other organizations?
4. Do we use our events to promote our organization, recruit new members and solicit assistance?
5. Do our events draw good attendance?
6. Does our programming meet the needs of our membership?
7. Do we use our resources (financial and otherwise) to protect and advocate for the vulnerable and voiceless members of our larger community?
MORALE: A measurement of how well we inspire pride and positive feelings about our organization from its members.
1. Does our organization do a good job of promoting the benefits of joining our group?
2. Do we use promotional materials to instill a sense of pride and belonging (t-shirts, buttons, bumper stickers)?
3. Does the leadership officially recognize and publicly celebrate the achievements and contributions of individual members?
4. Do we create events that provide opportunities for our members to meet, encourage, and fellowship with each other?
These are just a few categories we need to consider in evaluating our organizations. Hopefully you find this information helpful. Our organizations must strive for excellence and effectiveness because so many people depend on them.
Agyei Tyehimba is an educator, activist and author from Harlem, N.Y. Agyei is a former NYC public schoolteacher, co-founder of KAPPA Middle School 215 in the Bronx, NY, and co-author of the Essence Bestselling book, Game Over: The Rise and Transformation of a Harlem Hustler, published in 2007 by Simon & Schuster. In April of 2014, he released Truth for our Youth: A Self-Empowerment Book for Teens. Agyei has appeared on C-Span, NY1 News, and most recently on the A&E documentary, “The Mayor of Harlem: Alberto ‘Alpo’ Martinez.”
Agyei earned his Bachelor’s Degree in sociology from Syracuse University, his Master’s Degree in Africana Studies from Cornell University, and his Master’s Degree in Afro-American Studies from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
If you are interested in bringing Agyei to speak or provide consultation for your organization, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.