Associations depend on their board, staff, and volunteers every step of the way. Volunteers get involved because of the personal and professional aspects of an association and that is exactly what board members must keep in mind when leading. Below are four tips and traits to demonstrate around the board table to drive success for your association.
Training Newly Elected Board Members
A common challenge many boards face is bringing newly elected board members up to speed with current conversations and initiatives. A board should not assume new members clearly understand how non-profits operate and should assist in the training process. Through sharing information, you can improve productivity and the overall volunteer experience. When working with new members, start with the basics, then get specific, stay engaged and give instruction with a long-term focus. Your association is constantly evolving, and training will change for seasoned members as well. Avoid repeating past decisions and conversations through thorough communication at the training level and additional yearly reassessments.
Be Flexible to Others’ Needs and Situations
Associations are composed of people with various personalities, career experiences and backgrounds. Mixing a diverse group of individuals calls for increased flexibility and understanding while working together towards a common goal. Some boards are international or face physical barriers when it comes to meeting. This may mean hosting virtual calls or decreasing the number of in-person meetings for individuals with long commutes. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual meetings have been more widely accepted and utilized. Learn more about getting the most out of your virtual board meetings.
Communicate in a Way That Fosters Success
Setting clear expectations with thorough communication is a key component in driving a board toward success. To become more adaptable to others’ needs, take the time to learn your fellow board members’ conversation styles. In doing so, you build relationships, clearly communicate expectations for involvement and define communication channels to avoid conflicts before they occur. Build those relationships thorough board orientation, ice breakers, clearly set meeting procedures and a shared vision for the association. Creating this sense of culture and comfort within the board leads to open and honest discussions. Learn more about having conversations around the board table here.
Accept Constructive Criticism and End in Unity
Even with open communication channels, boards can find themselves in conflict over issues that seem to have no clear solution. When handled correctly, this situation can result in growth and understanding. When a leader is faced with this type of scenario, they should encourage others to express their reasoning, accept constructive criticism, and maintain a respectful environment. The key to a unified board is remembering each member believes in the association’s mission and wants to see success. Find where your ideas have common ground to convey your understanding and appreciation for the conflicting viewpoint. No matter the conflict, a productive leader attempts to reunite the board on a common goal.
As a board member, you make strategic decisions to lead your association forward and help identify the next generation of leaders. To do that you first must take the steps to understand what makes you a good leader. Learn more about association boards from our library of resources.