What do I believe?
I believe that the majority of new board members have the best intentions and are excited about their opportunity to make a difference. However, once they get into the work, sometimes they run into roadblocks or behaviors that they don’t quite know how to work through. Below you will find some very specific actions and qualities that will help you be a successful board member. While the below may seem like common sense, it’s also not common practice. Knowing and doing are two completely different things.
Success of the Club, First
To have a successful club, you must view all decisions from the perspective of the overall health of the club. That means the right decision benefits the many over the few, or it secures the club’s longevity over what happens tomorrow. Often board members tend to ONLY look at things from their perspective and how it will affect their child on the team. Which is the biggest reason why boards come to a stalemate because you have some that are thinking personally and some that are thinking about the club overall. To be successful you must be open and willing to make decisions for all, not just yourself or your child. Remember, you are there to serve ALL members.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat through a board meeting where no one but the President and the Secretary talk. No one offers an opinion, no one challenges a decision, and no one offers a thought. It’s sad because that means one person is making all of the decisions and doing all the work for your club. In order for the board to make sound and well-thought-out decisions, there must be a conversation. There must be collaboration. You must speak up and ask questions, ask for explanations, and offer your thoughts.
Along with speaking comes listening. Every board member has a right to share their thoughts and opinions. And in order to come to the best decision for the club, you must be open to listening. Often the best ideas come from shared thoughts or collaboration.
You either wanted or agreed to be a board member and with that comes the commitment to excellent and high-quality work that is dedicated to the club at least for the next year. If your aim is to be a successful board member and contribute to the overall success of the club, then you must take on tasks and be responsible for delivering them timely and to a high standard. You may even need to take on work that is outside of your comfort zone. If you do, ask for or seek out the help you need to do a good job.
Another disappointing behavior I see often is allowing apathy or board members agreeing to take on responsibility, yet never delivering. This means the work either doesn’t get done or someone else has to do it. Which could mean it’s not done well because they have so many other things on their plate. You must become adept at holding yourself accountable and not be afraid of holding others accountable. Now there is a right and a wrong way to do that, but the point is to ensure the work that is needed to be completed for a successful club is actually done. (on time and to a high standard).
One thing to note is that as you move forward and start to elect or nominate new Board Members, it’s good to keep the above characteristics in mind. Does the person you are considering have these abilities or qualities along with their own specific technical expertise?
My recommendation is that you share this information, or your variation of it, with your board and make it a matter of practice or a standard that everyone agrees to uphold. If you can execute these behaviors you will be a successful board member and one who contributes to the overall success of the club.