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  • Chris Gandy

Board Members, Don't Just Sit There, Serve!

Maybe it’s me, but have you noticed (or cared) how often people refer to their role on a not for profit board as “sitting”?  It’s as if simply turning up is all that is required.

I sit of the board of Save the Purple Frog League.
Sorry I am late, our board sat for ages tonight
I am passionate about my local community, I sit on 5 boards

Rightly or wrongly, but I tend to think of people who reference their board involvement in this way as those who probably do little more than attend a monthly or quarterly meeting; patiently listen to spiels from the CEO, Chair and maybe Sub-Committee Chairs; and walk away with a bunch of papers that they discard as soon they get home.

Fortunately, due to a very wise and supportive Chair of the first board I was invited to join, I learnt that there is more to being on a board than attendance. I still recall my orientation to that board when the Chair said to me ….

People don’t just sit on our board; they serve on our board. Are you prepared to serve?

From that first board experience, I came to appreciate that board members SERVE by…

  • Setting the vision and strategic direction of the organisation.

  • Ensuring key constituents are served.

  • Thoroughly searching to find the most suitable person for the Chief Executive role.

  • Supporting and fairly evaluating the Chief Executive.

  • Actively participating in a comprehensive planning process and monitoring performance against the plans’ goal.

  • Monitoring and strengthening programs and services

  • Providing adequate financial resources.

  • Ensuring a robust risk management process is in place.

  • Maintaining the legal and ethical integrity.

  • Building and growing a diverse and competent Board.

  • Enhancing the organisation’s public profile and garnering community support.

  • Listening to others describe problems and …

  • Then making yourself part of a worthwhile and workable solution.

In short, I realised that being an effective board member involves more than turning up, it requires making a contribution as well.

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