…but you don’t have to.

We all learn a lot of lessons along the way. I seem to learn best by doing rather than taking someone’s advice. The result is I learn by getting my nose bloodied  from time to time. So in the spirit of wanting to share so others can benefit from my experiences, here are a few “Tom-isms I hope you will find useful and you build and lead that nonprofit board of yours:

  • Don’t settle for just anyone simply because you have an opening on the board
    • Remember, you’ll have to live with them for the next 3-4 years
    • Better to keep that open seat in your hip pocket for an opportunistic addition to the board later in the year
  • Good volunteers or major donors do not automatically make good directors
    • Who hasn’t made this mistake
    • Also, just because someone did a great job heading up your golf outing, don’t assume they are board material. It takes collaboration and team work to serve on a board, and it takes a lot of positional/controlling leadership to pull off a flawless golf outing or gala dinner
  • Always be  looking for candidates, even if they cannot join you right away
    • Don’t wait unto you have a board seat opening to begin your search–that’s too late
    • Have a potential candidate list in your desk’s top drawer and keep adding to it year round
    • The best ones probably won’t be available right away anyway so you’ll need to keep in touch with them and continually recruit them
  • Look beyond your friends, neighbors, family
    • You’ll benefit from diversity of thoughts, experiences, and skill sets
    • Too many like-minded, friendly people result in a rubber-stamp board
    • Find ones who will bring some healthy friction/creative friction
  • Strategically recruit to fill specific needs on the board
    • What support will you need from your board to achieve your 3-5 year plan?
    • Look for candidates who have work/life experiences that complement board need

That’s a few on my thoughts, what else would you add?

Let me hear from you and feel free to share with others so we capture a lot of thinking on this topic.