My golfing buddy Brian tells me professional golfers have just three rules for their caddies: show up, keep up, shut up. Golf pros usually aren’t looking for advise unless they specifically ask for it. They only want their caddy to be there when required and do their job proficiently and quietly. That might work well for golf pros on Sunday afternoons, but for nonprofit directors, it is missing out on a terrific opportunity to make a difference.
When I stepped onto my first nonprofit board, I kept a low profile and did a lot of listening. Once I felt I had the hang of things, I began jumping into the discussions and offering my opinion. Kind of a “Go Big or Go Home” approach. I am really glad I did.
My hope for all new board members stepping into new board positions this year is that you all “Go Big” and Show Up, Step Up, and Speak Up. Sitting idly on a board acting like a potted plant is not fun and a terrible waste of time and talent.
Here are three ways for you to Show up-Step Up-Speak Up:
- As soon as you join a board, meet with the executive director and the board president, either individually or together. Ask them how you could help them right now to accomplish the agency’s current goals. Another question might be, they’ll love this one, is where is the agency’s biggest problem and how can I jump in to assist in solving it.
- Volunteer to head up, or co-chair some event or activity. Its a great way to met a lot fo the agency’s staff and volunteers and really understand how things work there.
- Finally, take off your director hat and spend serious some time volunteering in one of the activities at the agency. You will get insights not available from the board room.
You were asked onto the board because of the unique skills and abilities you bring to the table. Read here to see how balanced and authentic boards are built to bring value to the agency.
Let me hear from those of you who try out one of these three suggestions and tell me how it went. For experienced directors, what else could you suggest? Let’s talk…