Demand to be challenged

Yet again I heard a story of “bored” members. Folks that get invited to sit on boards are brought in with good intentions and many board members carve out precious time on their calendars hoping to make a difference through board participation. But too often this participation amounts to showing up at infrequent meetings, only to be barraged by a series of briefings and then released for the evening.

It’s an information dump in one direction. Board members tend to get treated very well with due respect and often a nice meal or reception as part of the meeting. Board members use this opportunity to informally catch up with each other and members of the organization.

But my big beef is that these often very valuable resources are wasted. Management expends all its effort on providing briefings but doesn’t tend to solicit input, action or advocacy. Having a collection of great minds or powerful individuals on your board brings the halo effect of star power but there’s lots of experience, connections and other resources available from board members.

If you don’t leverage these assets, your organization doesn’t get the best value and board members don’t get the best experience, fulfilling their initial expectation to add this value.

So identify what you want from your board members then make a plan to get it. And my fellow “bored” members, challenge these organizations to make better use of the talent that’s available to them. You might have to help them figure out how to do this.

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