Often you’ll find articles that highlight the legal duties of your association’s board members, but what about the basic qualities that you hope they embody? First and foremost, each board member’s primary goal should be to manage the affairs of your association and create policies that will help streamline your association’s day-to-day processes. We believe that these four traits are essential in providing a solid foundation in your board members, ensuring your board is headed in the right direction.
Above all, it’s key that your board members provide advice and guidance that will help your association fulfill their mission, vision and values. Your association is leaning on your board to provide industry expertise, so you want to make sure that they have a fairly strong knowledge base. In addition, members who have experience will be seen as credible voices in your field and help foster respect for your association in your industry.
Generally these boards consist of 3 to 7 people, so having a variety of experience will help you cultivate unique skill sets that can help your association with a multitude of areas. While your board member don’t always need to have direct knowledge about your industry, it’s important that they do provide some sort of leadership support to ensure you are building a strong team.
While this is common knowledge, it’s important to drive it home: Being a board member is a big investment of your time and not for the faint of heart. You need to make sure that your board members are ready to put in some serious time to ensure that the projects you are boasting actually come to pass. Typically, most board members average between 5 to 10 hours per month, breaking it down to 1 to 3 hours a week depending on your level of involvement.
Remember: The goal of a board member is to see the big picture of your association and find out how you can improve it. Most of these duties will involve researching new methodologies, recording minutes, keeping account of receipts, etc. We recommend that you screen your board members in advance to make sure they can invest the proper amount of time, as time can easily become the biggest factor in low board engagement.
Ideally, the interest in your association’s cause is what led your board members to decide to step it up a notch with their involvement. Generally, low-level interest stems from wanting to help themselves, mid-level interest stems from wanting to help your association, and high-level interest stems from wanting to help their community.
If you’re finding that your board members interest is beginning to wane, you might want to think about bringing new blood into the group. While we understand one of the biggest stressors in any aspect of an association is churn, we think it’s important to remember that it’s a good thing to continue to bring in new perspectives as you always want your board to evolve.
Yes, that’s right - make sure your board members have courage! Whatever the situation, sometimes you have to make decisions that not everyone is going to like. It’s crucial that your association’s board sticks to their convictions to evaluate what is good for your association, and even more so, your community.
In reality, we realize that some people just aren’t going to be willing to stick their neck out for certain issues. Sometimes it takes a special someone who is willing to debate for a cause they believe in, even when going against the norm. Now, to be clear, we aren’t promoting someone who only wants to argue and cause your board a headache. However, having varying opinions will (ideally) help round out your board and allow your association to have a unique focus on helping those in your industry.
We urge you not to underestimate the importance of selecting board members who will embody these highlighted traits. However, don’t hesitate to do your own review on what characteristics are important to you and your association. Only you will know what qualities will genuinely embody your association’s big picture.
However, time and time again, association professionals see their great ideas fall into a black hole of board approval, sometimes never to be seen again – and that couldn’t be more true of association management software shopping. If this sounds familiar, make sure to check out our guide that tells you How to Get Your Board on Board When Shopping for an AMS.