Over the last ten years of working for LANO, I have heard the same comments from Executive Directors and Board Chairs about their board meeting. “I hate getting ready for board meetings! My monthly panic attack is always the day before a board meeting.” “It is a waste of time every month, no one ever comes to a meeting prepared and only a few people at the table are engaged.”
So…how do we set new expectations for board engagement? As we start a new year, let’s get rid of some old habits. Start with a better understanding of what it means to govern. Good governance is not about protecting your board and setting or accepting low expectations. Good governance does not ask board members to check their brain at the door so they can be fed a “rubber stamp” buffet of board reports to approve. Executive Directors believing that they need to come to board meetings with all the answers is not good governance, and neither is being afraid of hearing differing opinions at the board table. Good governance can be messy!
By calendaring the important fiduciary responsibilities of our work, there is more time for board member engagement. We reframe a listening board into a conversational board, discussing the challenges and opportunities to further the mission of our organization. Board members become problem solvers. Organizations need their brain power to consider new possibilities, identify new constituents, and help solve complex problems. That is good governance! Well planned meetings provide good stewardship of our board members’ time, and we find they have new respect and renewed interest in their commitment at the board table. That is good governance!
What if you walked out of the next LANO training session with a calendar of topics and committee tasks for the next year? LANO’s Board Calendaring session will invigorate your meeting planning woes. I promise you will not be disappointed!
Kay M. Irby
Director of Organizational Development