Sitting on a committee is something that can be incredibly rewarding, both in terms of what you can do for the community and what you can learn from the experience. But, like the cliche says, you only get out what you put in. So why not put in your best? Here’s five ways to be the best board member you could possibly be.
1. Show Up
It might seem obvious, but the best thing you can do for your board is be there. By showing up to every meeting you are showing the rest of the crew that you care, you’re gaining knowledge about the organisation’s position and future, and you’re learning new styles of governance from the other board members. While we all know life can get in the way, doing your best to be present for every meeting will strongly boost your effectiveness in your position.
2. Get Educated
Many boards will enlist a diverse range of people so as to gain a broad perspective on any given situation, but if you’re operating in a specialised field you need people with specialist knowledge. Whether you’re on the board for your outsider or insider knowledge, there’s always more to learn about your organisation’s field. Read up, ask around, communicate, and you’ll become an valued expert in no time.
3. Stay Motivated
When you’re on a board, especially if it’s a volunteer position, your outside life often feels more important - and it is! Your job, your family, any sudden emergency should take priority. But you agreed to sit on this board because you believe in what the organisation is doing, and if you want to stay involved in that it means putting in the hard yards. There’s going to be a lot of meetings, homework, and tough decisions that’ll stress you out, but remembering why you’re here can keep you in the game.
4. Be a Coach
You might be the least experienced on the committee, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to offer. Think of the coach of a children’s football team: sure, they want to improve their team’s skills, but their main priority is making sure everyone gets their turn, and everyone leaves the game happy and motivated. For you, emulating the coach means shaping discussions so everyone gets a chance to speak, being a good listener, and being a respectful sounding board for ideas and concerns.
5. Be Courageous
Sometimes, being on a committee is really hard. There’s delicate decisions that could make or break the organisation, and the answer isn’t always clear. There’s hard truths to face, some of which might be about you. There’s big personalities who want to walk all over everyone else. Standing up for your choices, accepting your failures with grace, and remaining convicted in the face of adversity are some of the greatest traits a board member can possess. It might be hard to make these choices, but doing so will make you a more valuable member of any committee you’re on.