We talk a lot here about the importance of laying out expectations and roles with Board Members. And there is no question that it is super-important to do so. If they dont understand their role as a volunteer and your role as a staff leader, you are signing yourself up for (at best) a sub-par, ineffective Board Member and at-worst an adversarial boss.
But lets step back for a moment and get even more basic, because there is something that will help you get the most out of your Board more than any other single trick. Are you ready this is so elementary but so often forgotten ..get them excited!
Thats right .push the power of passion! Look, people dont work hard on anything that they dont care about. And they also hate to be on a losing team. So if you are hum drum about what is happening in your organization, they will be too. They have to come in actually fired up on your mission, and they have to feel that they have joined a winner; a team that is going places and right now!
Trust me your Board Members will follow your lead when it comes to attitude. I am reminded how negative the tone of Board discussions had become at all of my last three stops as a CEO. It was no wonder that each and every new Board Member would come in and feel their energy sucked right out of them by long discussions of what couldnt be done and plenty of excuses as to why. I can tell you, it was a tough trick to change that culture. But it had to be done .and I actually got pretty good at it.
I started by finding the right champion on the current Board. Look around and youll see him/her on your Board right now. They are the elder statesman; maybe not the most active, but they have some success outside of the organization in the business world. They have a command about them that when they talk people listen. Now get that person excited about getting everyone else excited. Let them in on the secret that they are going to be a cheerleader, maybe even make a little game out of it. However you do it, inspire passion in that one member and let them draw the others in.
And how do you inspire the passion? Do it by showing them where you (and they) are going to take the organization in the very near future. Show them how successful things are currently and how much more successful they are about to become and get them talking .to anyone and everyone about your incredible mission and plans. This is not about them asking for money, this is about them being so excited about their organization that they cant help but share!
The attitude will then breed within the Board, and suddenly, outside of your Board. Youll get phone calls from people youve never met who will want to help because they heard someone talking at the gym or their club about the great work that you are doing and how things are really moving. And youll realize, your Board WANTS to brag, they just need something to brag about.
Your Board members will see that their pride and exuberance will serve almost as a donation-ask in and of themselves. People dont enjoy asking for money, but they sure enjoy talking about something exciting that they are making happen. Make that their focal point! Empower them to talk about their successes .and then maybe even share it all at some low-cost open house type event where they can bring their friends just so see what is happening.
See where Im going here? It all starts with unchaining the power of passion in your Board! It all grows from there.
Roles and responsibilities are huge. Dont forget them. But to truly move that group off the dime, energize them, bring out their passion and watch your organization take off!