Dos and Don'ts for Working With Boards

Whether you're working with new or established volunteer leaders, proper board orientation is a must. Below, Philip Lesser, Ph.D., CAE, vice president of Bostrom Corporation, shares six tips on working with board members.

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the January 2010 Associations Now Interactive Extra.

Do This

Leadership-development programs. "A leadership-development program will identify good talent and give those individuals the kinds of training and experience to make a successful leader."

Not That

Forget whose organization it is. "An executive who has ‘seen it all' … doesn't have patience for a new board member who wants to try out a new idea. Remember that the organization belongs to its members."

Do This

Offer continuous training. "Some organizations will have leadership [training] for new board members but only for new board members … all board members need to be continually reminded of what their roles and responsibilities are."

Not That

Give tough assignments. "An executive at an organization needs ways of assessing who's ready for what … . People given an assignment for which they're not prepared is a mistake."

Do This

Connect mentors and mentees. "Having a returning board member take a new board member under his or her wing is going to be really powerful and establishes what the roles, rights, and responsibilities are."

Not That

Keep secrets. "Whatever the problem is, not informing the board and it being surprised … is another mistake. One of the skills of being an executive is figuring out how to inform the board in a productive way."