Monday, September 7, 2015
What Are You Looking For In Your Next Board Member?
So, what kind of individuals am I looking for?
It's a great question. And the responsibility associated with the position has made me stop and think more critically about it than I otherwise might have. As I find myself chatting with nominees, essentially interviewing them as I might interview job candidates for my own association, I find my mind and my questions focusing on three key areas. And they may not be what you expect.
1. What do you do in your day job? I'm a firm believer that the world a nominee lives in is the world they will bring to the Board table. If their day job has them tactically executing someone else's strategy, then tactical is the mindset that they're going to have in Board meetings. They'll end up arguing with staff over how programs should be executed rather than working with their fellow Board members to decide which programs produce the results we're looking for. Very few of us in the association world have jobs that are 100% strategic, but experience formulating strategy, and adjusting that strategy when the envisioned tactics meet the real world, is an absolute prerequisite.
2. Who do you blame when things go wrong? To me, the most often correct answer is "no one." When things don't go according to plan, the simple and usually wrong answer is that it is some one person's fault. It's often not even a team's fault. When things go wrong, it is almost always due to a deficiency in the overall system. The organization lacks the resources. The people in charge of execution lack the competencies. The strategy itself was not well matched to the reality of the situation. Board members need to be looking to these three options before deciding to assign blame. They are far more often the real root of the problem, and people who don't recognize that and don't know how to deal with those problems will make poor Board members.
3. Do you control your own calendar? In other words, if the Board decides to add another meeting to its calendar, and that meeting requires an overnight stay away from your hometown, do you need to get permission from someone else, or can you commit your own time and resources to that meeting? Professionals who lack the freedom or authority to make those kinds of decisions are also usually not ready to be making the kind of decisions that need to be made around a Board table. That may sound harsh, but it's the truth. A Board needs to be comprised of people in charge of their own careers, not people who need permission from their supervisors before making any new commitments.
Do you agree with my areas of emphasis? What else do you think is absolutely necessary in new Board members? Let me know you're out there by leaving a comment.
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This post was written by Eric Lanke, an association executive, blogger and author. For more information, visit www.ericlanke.blogspot.com, follow him on Twitter @ericlanke or contact him at email@example.com.