Are You an Effective Board Member?

Are You an Effective Board Member?

By Mark Engle, ض Principal

If you’ve ever conducted an initiative to improve your organization, you know how important it is to track your results. Without data—whether it is quantitative, such as likes on a Facebook post, or qualitative, such as member testimonials—it’s impossible to know what is working and, perhaps more importantly, what is not.

But when it comes to gauging your efficacy as a board member, tracking success isn’t as simple as reviewing the metrics or talking to your end user. So, how do you know if you’re contributing value to each conversation—or ending up stuck in the same old loop of unsuccessful tactics?

Objectively assessing your own performance can be difficult, but by using our proprietary Board Member Self-Assessment, you can more easily gather data and make decisions about how you can most effectively support your organization.

To start, try asking yourself the following questions about your work as a board member:

1. Am I prepared?

Although it happens well before your session is called to order, one of the most important ways to ensure your board meeting is productive is to adequately prepare. To judge whether you are prepared for your meeting, ask yourself:

  • Have I read the advance materials provided, and do I understand their contents? Have I clarified any areas that I do not understand?
  • Have I prepared questions in advance of the meeting?
  • Have I leveraged colleagues and other members to help shape my understanding of the issues?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you may be missing major elements of the issue at hand—and inadvertently derailing your colleagues’ efforts to find a solution.

2. Am I considering the organization’s strategy?

It can be difficult to juggle the many competing interests that enter any boardroom, but the most important priority always should be the strategic mission of the organization itself. When you consider your participation in board meetings, ask yourself:

  • Do I understand the strategy of the organization?
  • Do my comments and input most often support the achievement of that strategy?

As the primary stewards of the organization’s future, board members must ensure that their decisions reflect and support the organization’s mission. After all, if you’re not sure what your association’s goals are, how can you hope to achieve them?

3. Do I attend meetings, and am I engaged when I am there?

This one might seem simple, but association professionals know better than anyone that attendance doesn’t necessarily guarantee engagement—and that a lack of engagement can make change nearly impossible to achieve. Ask yourself:

  • Am I present at all board meetings—physically, mentally, and emotionally?
  • Do I challenge issues and assumptions, not individuals?
  • Do I participate in board discussions when I have something to contribute?

If you’re simply sitting in sessions, chances are good that you’re not contributing to your board’s goals—and the chances are even better that your board is missing out on the unique and valuable insights only you can provide.

4. Am I adequately prepared to make decisions?

Every meeting has the potential to end with some big decisions, so it’s every board member’s job to come prepared to discuss and facilitate that progress. If you’re not sure whether you come to board meetings ready to give your yay or nay, ask yourself:

  • Do I have the necessary information to cast a meaningful vote, and if not, do I seek out that information?
  • Do I give my honest vote when requested?

Every decision has the impact to affect not just your membership, but your industry as a whole, and the most effective board members keep that responsibility in mind when they cast their vote on issues relevant to their constituents.

5. Am I supporting the organization outside of designated meetings?

You’ve already proven your commitment by volunteering your time and energy to the board, but supporting your organization doesn’t stop at the meeting room door. Nor does support always come in the form of giving extra hours or attention; sometimes, it’s as easy as helping spread positive word of mouth. To gauge whether you’re effectively supporting your organization, ask yourself:

  • Do I support the CEO/chief staff executive publicly and privately?
  • Do I serve as an ambassador for this organization?
  • Do I take the opportunity to recruit new members and leaders?

These questions can help you better measure your effectiveness as a board member, but the process doesn’t end there. Our Board Member Self-Assessment includes a wider range of questions and an easy scoring methodology to help you not only gauge your own effectiveness, but identify areas where you may need improvement.
Learn more about how to gauge your effectiveness—and better serve your board.

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