If you’re going to be a board member, why not make the best of it?
I’m listing recommendations for effective board members as follows:
- “Yes” person – Resist being a bobble head.
- “No” Person – The default power position of most members.
- Staff Work – “Be prepared.”
- Role Defined Contribution – Have inclusive purpose.
Let me expand upon the next two:
5. Loose Lips – Every board has a specific protocol in disseminating the decisions of the board. Except in specific cases, that doesn’t include you. Let the system have its way. Your hope to communicate good news or tough news needs the detail of the formal decision. That comes from the board, not you. The decision may rest upon certain timing that will be frustrated by a leak from an improper source. The decision may be reversed by an executive override following the meeting. Unless you’re the Chair or the designated reporter, your lack of discipline in confidentiality can do damage to the people you’re trying to help and to you.
6. Attendance – This may be a moot point on some boards where attendance is an absolute requirement. There are boards where the members have some freedom to miss for essential business or personal reasons. Just know that the Chair and the board are counting on your contribution. Your perspective is important as a board member. If you minimize this value, it may not be yours for long.
The direction of a company or endeavor is often directly related to the effectiveness of the board. If this is your privilege, make sure you’re on board.