What Makes a Strong Board

What makes a strong board

Devon Possanza, CMP

There are many factors to consider when managing a successful association, from member engagement to interesting events. However, the strength of an association’s board of directors plays a large role in the ultimate growth of the association itself. There are certain traits that come to mind when we reflect on the qualities of flourishing boards.  With our years of experience in guiding associations to outstanding achievements, we pulled together some of the top traits for boards that we see among our clients. We are always working to nurture these traits within our current associations, but we also consider the cultivation of these qualities a top priority in new clients.

  • People who care about the association and its success. Each member of the board must take their role seriously and work together to further the association’s goals. They know that serving on a board is a significant commitment, but they make the time to grow with their industry and their members. When making decisions, these members utilize a “we” mindset, instead of considering just their own opinions or feelings. They’re also willing to step up to the plate and help another board member if they cannot fulfill one of their duties.
  • Open communication. Board members must speak frequently with one another and with their association’s members. Whether they are providing updates on what tasks need to be accomplished or what each person is responsible for, it is imperative to have frequent, open, and clear conversations. At each meeting, thorough notes are taken, and each member is aware of what has been discussed and decided.  Furthermore, each member of the board is transparent and honest with one another. This allows everyone to feel comfortable asking questions and bringing their unique perspectives to the table. Though board members cycle in and out over the years, consistent, open communication keeps the association running seamlessly, regardless of who is currently serving on the board. 
  • Adaptability to change. Associations often fall into a routine. Their annual event may be presented the same way every year, or they may only communicate with members via email. The best boards are the ones that acknowledge when something isn’t working or needs updating, and brainstorm how to make it better. This could mean revamping a conference schedule, using different forms of social media, or even texting members instead of emailing them. No matter what, a successful board must be receptive to change when it benefits the association. In line with this is the willingness to accept fresh ideas from new board members, as each of them has a different perspective and can add value in their role. Remember, change is the only constant in life, so we must be willing to adapt.

Our team works closely with the members of the board to regularly build these skills and more. Through leadership retreats, meeting facilitation, and communications services, we are always striving to set your association up for success. We lead by example, and that starts with our very own team. 

At the end of the day, each board member brings unique skills to the table, and their diverse perspectives and individual talents are incredibly valuable. The most successful boards, no matter how much they differ, actively cultivate the above qualities in their members.  If that sounds easier said than done, reach out to our team to learn how we can help your board be the best it can be for your association.