Board Perspective She gets so defensive when I ask her for something. The ED won’t let us exercise proper fiscal oversight. The first I heard about it was in the newspaper. The ED doesn’t recognize my authority. I’m not sure the ED is right for the job – but I don’t want to say anything. Executive Director Perspective The Board is questioning everything I do. I can’t order stationery with the board getting involved. I don’t want the board breathing down my neck. The board chair does not recognize my authority. The board doesn’t trust me.
Understand the landscape Board members make better friends than adversaries – but avoid “stacking” the board. Make board members look good; do not embarrass them. Be proactive Don’t hold the meeting at the meeting. Go one-on-one. Spring no surprises. Send materials in advance and ask for input. Know where they stand on issues.
Simplify and refresh your story. Be clear, concise and candid. Board members do not always retain information from one meeting to the next. Assume nothing. Take your board on the journey. Balance strategy, tactics, overview vs. detail. Display backbone Be willing to compromise. Pick your battles. Hold the board accountable.
Manage the trickle down What happens in the board room does not stay in the board room. Board members will discuss observations and perceptions; others will discuss what they heard. Use the down stream to advance your cause. Manage the environment Ensure board meetings are meaningful, productive and enjoyable. Have refreshments if possible Do not make worthless or unnecessary presentations.
Communicating in an electronic world Generally, communicate with all board members, not a subset or committee. Do not forward emails without the sender’s permission. Use bcc sparingly and judiciously. Individual Board members should not email other individual board members unless they email everyone. Use the subject line. Don’t solicit board feedback or advice via email. Consider an internal policy to govern electronic communication.
Your staff and the board Do they attend board meetings? How much information? Direct communication? Respect reporting lines, communication and culture; respect boundaries.