I believe that we would have much stronger boards if the board chair spent more of her or his time mentoring and engaging the other board members rather than focusing all of his or her attention on the relationship with the CEO. And vice versa… if rather than focusing all of his or her attention on the board chair, a CEO’s time is better spent getting to know, strategizing with and enabling other board members.
1. We don’t have great “word of mouth” working for us on the rewards of board service, mainly because most board members don’t experience any. Instead of engaging board members in the exciting, strategic work of community change making, we stick them in meetings where they fuss over ministrivia or get reported at.
Eleven board practices I try to live by: 1Only choose board service if you are willing to carry the moral obligation on your shoulders.2. Serve organizations whose vision and values you are passionate about (or will quickly grow to be). 3. Limit your board service – two boards at one time is usually enough.
Ultimately, your performance as a board isn’t judged by the health of your balance sheet, or the sparkle of your facility, no matter how important these may be.
The real measure is the difference you make in the lives you save, the natural resources you protect, the beauty you create, or the spiritual comfort you provide.
What enables change in a board of directors? Here are a few points: a critical mass of directors, including parts of the leadership, perceive a need for change. The rest of the board is willing to go along. Directors find an inspiring new vision to rally around.
In just a few minutes, the 40+ board members, executive directors and staff who attended shared these words. Together, they described the perfect board experience.
Purpose. Vision. Wisdom. Humor. Joy. Passion. Shared Values. Dedication. Generosity. Insight. Productive. Patience. Flexibility. Common Ground. Perseverance. Investment. Struggle. Eye-opening. Community-building. Caring. Deep Caring. Collaboration. Diversity. Gratitude. Leadership. Creative. Integrity. Teamwork. Unity. Heaven. Rewarding. Brainstorming. Listening. Support. Respect. Commitment. Interactive. Different. Communication.
I think we learned a lot about the two people who were interviewed this morning… and a lot about everyone’s perceptions of the community and their own organization’s role in it. Just by talking to each other.
Board members are volunteers too. Too often, we take their service for granted.