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.