Setting Your Leaders Up For Success

April 2, 2024Gila Hadani

It's board nomination season again! Time to compile lists, get recommendations, and start calling the future leaders of your congregation. Although it may not always feel like it, this time presents a fantastic opportunity to mobilize and inspire new leaders in your community. The URJ has resources, advice, and initiatives to set you and your board up for success. Remember to operate from an abundance mindset and think of the possibilities each of these opportunities present.

Getting Started…

  • The nominating committee's charge is to find the best people to be on your board who will be stewards of the congregation's mission. The nominating committee is about so much more than making sure that the roster is full. Is your congregation's nominating committee set up to reach its full potential? Take a look at "Running A Congregational Nominating Committee" for directions, tips, and strategies.
  • As your nominating committee does its work, all congregational leaders should be teaming up to find diverse leaders. This is a job for ALL of us. We need to proactively engage new leaders whose identities are often not reflected in our leadership. Younger leaders, Leaders of Color, trans/nonbinary leaders, leaders with disabilities, leaders from interfaith backgrounds, leaders from working class backgrounds, and other groups should all be engaged. Take a long look at your membership lists. Does your leadership represent diverse voices? This is an endeavor that can take some time, but we have resources to support you. Start by reading our "How to Assemble a Diverse Group, Committee, and/or Taskforce Resource" and think about the leadership bench you are building.
  • To be successful, your board members must understand what is required of them. How do you teach them about unfamiliar aspects of running a congregation? Where can they find answers to their questions? Remember: a board is a community within a community . How do we make new board members feel like they're part of that community? Don't reinvent the wheel, consult "Creating a Manual for Your Board" and "Building a Board Orientation Program" for some ideas and a roadmap to get everyone on the same page.

Sharpening Our Skills…

  • Assess how your board is performing.Is your board set up to be productive? How does it cultivate leaders? The URJ's board self-assessment tool asks current congregational board members to evaluate themselves on:

    • Mission/Vision/Values
    • Governance
    • Leadership Culture
    • Leadership Development
    • Crisis Management

    Once the board completes its self-assessment, they will be paired with a mentor to understand the results and craft an action plan. It is a fantastic way for your leadership to reflect and look toward the future. View the information sheet for more details about the project. For more information, contact

  • Provide opportunities for ongoing leadership development . One of the best ways for a board to learn, bond, dream, and plan for the future is to set aside time to focus on creating the congregation you want to become. During this planning period, don't worry about the mundane; leaders should focus on thinking generatively. The URJ can pair your board with a trained facilitator to create an interactive learning and planning session. There is a wide variety of topics that you can cover while someone else is leading the session, which will enable you to fully participate. These workshops can be conducted in-person or online. We can also create the content and train someone in your congregation to lead the workshop. There are a multitude of possibilities, all tailored to your congregation's specific needs and designed to catalyze your leadership to act. Read about hosting a leadership workshop in your community or contact for more information.

Now is the time to imagine what is possible. Do not be hampered by things you can't control; center your leaders by bringing them onto your team, teaching them, and inspiring them. Before you know it, you will have a whole board of people working together to build a community you can all be proud of.

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