Sometimes advisory council members are selected by someone outside of your organization–a political appointment, for example. We worked with one organization that would simply throw-up its hands and say, “We have to take what we get.” While it may be true that the ultimate decision rests elsewhere, we think it is a mistake not to try to influence a decision that is so important to how the advisory council works.
This is definitely a case where it makes sense to be as specific as you can in your request. Prove you’ve done your homework, that the appointment of members is not to be taken lightly, and that you have specific needs you are trying to meet. Provide the person (or persons) making the appointment with a description of the expectations you have for advisory council members–ideally developed by the advisory council itself–and a brief description of the skills, abilities and experience you are seeking and why. By demonstrating just how seriously you take the advisory council and the appointment of members, you are more likely to get a thoughtful appointment than an appointment of convenience.
Better yet, find a way to offer suggestions for potential candidates. You’ll want a list that is longer than the number of vacancies and that contains the names and qualifications of a solid list of candidates–every one of them individuals who meet your criteria and with whom you would be comfortable if they are appointed. You may not get your top choices, and maybe your list will not be considered, but the odds of getting the advisory council candidates you want increase dramatically when you take a thoughtful and proactive approach to the appointment process.
Even when the choice of members is in someone else’s hands, increase the odds of getting the members you need and want by taking a proactive approach to the recruitment process.
We have many other suggestions for you and your advisory council in the blog section of our Starboard website: www.starboardleadership.com. We encourage you to contact us if you would like additional information or advice.