I can’t say it any more clearly and directly than this: if you want to recruit top-notch board members, you need to recruit or assign your very best people to the task. As board chair, the appointment of committee chairs and committee members is likely to be one of your responsibilities (or at least something over which you have tremendous influence). If changing the board culture and increasing board effectiveness is important to you, then getting the right people to take on this job should be important too.
Look around the board table. Who best represents the kind of board leadership you hope to see in the future? Who is it that is looking to the future and not to the past? Who is it that might share your vision for an active and engaged board? Who might be a future board chair? You are looking for someone who can tackle this work with energy and won’t let “this is how we did it last year” stand in the way of adopting new strategies.
Too often the nominating process is placed in the hands of the long-time board members, a past president, or even former board members. In my opinion, board recruitment efforts should be led by current board members only and, ideally, those invested in the future. If you want to stay stuck where you’ve been, past board members can certainly keep you there.
I’m familiar with one board where recruitment had been left in the hands of one board member for almost eight years. Everyone was afraid to offend her by taking a more active role in recruitment or by reassigning her to another committee. As a result, the profile of those recruited tended to look a lot like the profile of the recruiter, and creating change in the board culture and structure was all the more difficult.
So, if you don’t have the right committee chair or members in place now, find a way to change things up. You are the board chair. Be creative. Find another role for those folks and recruit the leadership you need. It is highly unlikely that anyone will be offended, and they may even feel relieved.
It is highly likely that your committee chair will need some guidance and some significant support from you. Invest the time here. You can transform the board and change the organization, but it will only happen with your leadership. Put the right people on the job.
For additional information, please contact Jeff Wahlstrom at (207) 992-4407 or send him an e-mail message at [email protected].