Real Board Solutions - Advising Chief Staff Officers and Board of Directors ||
A Message From Terry


The Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE) 2014/2015 compensation survey has arrived! As usual it’s comprehensive, providing 143 tables covering among others comparative compensation by sector, demographic, regional area and the list goes on and on………

A few general comments taken from the survey are as follows:

  • On average, compensation levels have increased since last year
  • Membership size is not related to executive compensation
  • Over 50% of Chief Staff Officers are over 50 years of age
  • Retirement benefits are now offered to most Chief Staff Officers
  • Most Chief Staff Officers who are working without a formal contract earn lower levels of compensation

As a former Chief Executive Officer it would have been great to have this type of information and as importantly to understand how and when to benefit from it.

If you are serious about your compensation as a Chief Staff Officer or you are a volunteer board member wanting to know how much to compensate your Executive Director, we need to talk………

Terry Clark

Feature Article

Are You a Doormat in the Boardroom?

By Narges Nirumvala

Narges NirumvalaEvery leader has a defining moment where they can either speak up or seethe in silence. I remember one meeting in particular was a defining moment for me as a leader – years later my fellow board members (now my friends) still remember that meeting.

Our President was assertive and outspoken. If anyone even thought of speaking out he would shoot them a look and they would back down. So it was about one hour into the meeting, we’re going through the agenda and hit a point of discussion where I think the President just didn’t see the reality of the situation. I looked around the room and saw the looks of discomfort on the other board members faces. One of them tried to say something, but he just spoke over him. Someone else made a hand gesture, he ignored it. I could feel the tension in the room bubbling over. Here’s the first thing that helped me – learning to read the body language in the room – especially subtle facial expressions and hand gestures. Finally I just couldn’t take it anymore - I said “You might also want to consider….” and a heated (but polite) discussion ensued. Here’s the second thing I learnt that day - listen first, but when the time comes, don’t be afraid to speak your mind – with tact of course. He took my suggestion on board in the end and at the end of the meeting one of my colleagues turned to me and said “She’s no Stepford wife that’s for sure.” The Stepford Wives was a classic movie from the 70’s where all the wives in the town of Stepford were slowly replaced by robotic wives who never spoke up, always smiled and agreed with everything their husbands said. A horror film!!! Years later that sentence would define me. So that’s my final point - if you don’t create your defining moment you may just disappear into the background and your legacy with it.

Our boardrooms are full of doormats – people who are brilliant, but over time who have been silenced into submission. That’s a huge mistake. You see it’s not just diversity of age, gender and ethnicity that makes for a strong organization – but diversity of opinions and experiences too, especially at the top. So the next time the opportunity arises, step out of your comfort zone and speak up – your shareholders will thank you.

Narges Nirumvala is the CEO of ExecutiveSpeak Coaching International and the author of the public speaking book ‘Capture the Spotlight’ now available on Amazon. She’s a top executive speech coach and leadership communications expert. Contact her at or on LinkedIn at

© 2013 Narges Nirumvala | 604-728-2424 |

Board Financial Stewardship

board stewardshipFinancial stewardship is critical to success for the association’s strategic direction. And financial stewardship falls to the Board.

The Board, as a whole, has general and specific responsibilities to the organization’s membership and those sponsors who provide funds for the operation of the organization. The Board will account to members and other key stakeholders through annual and periodic reports on its activities and finances, annual audited financial statements and operating in an open and transparent manner.

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So Whose Job Is It?

Whose job is it?It takes a partnership of the board president and the executive director to sustain good governance and management. Consideration should be given to whose role it is when carrying out governance and management duties.

Bob Harris CAE has prepared a list below that applies to many non profits. Its a good guide line however the size, mandate, budget and sector do make for some slight differences, when in doubt please go to my site to the Ask the Consultant section and send in your question for clarification.

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career goalsIn the not for profit sector we live and work in there are no breaks. At one time things slowed down in the summer, it’s not so any more………

With an annual turnover rate of 10% Chief Staff Officers are coming and going at a fast pace, many times they are asked to do more with less.

For this month’s homework, take a break and review your career goals and the direction you are currently heading. If it’s time to move on, send me an email with your resume (in total confidence)

Remember most of the good recruitment and executive search assignments are not advertised. How can I know you are available and looking if I haven’t heard from you lately.

About Terry Clark

Terry J. Clark CAE, the Founder and President of Real Board Solutions is a results-oriented, not-for-profit professional who has a unique background and skill set that volunteer board members and their staff truly appreciate.

For the past 19 years Terry has advised hundreds of not-for-profit Boards of Directors and their senior staff members. As past Executive Director with a high profile business association, Terry has also served as an interim Executive Director with eight organizations.

His consulting practice focuses on executive search, Board development, strategic planning, operational reviews, executive director compensation and mentorship/coaching. He has provided those services to not-for-profits in virtually every not-for-profit sector in Western Canada, North West Territories, the Yukon and California.

Terry is a Certified Association Executive (CAE), a Past Area Governor of Toastmasters International and was educated at the University of British Columbia. He possesses leading-edge Non Profit "best practices" and combines them with real life experiences to provide not-for-profits Boards and their staff with real solutions.

In 2013 the Canadian Society of Association Executives presented Terry with the prestigious ACE Award (Association Cornerstone of Excellence) in the ‘Above and Beyond’ Category.

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