When you recruit for your board, do you tell them that all they have to do is show up to meetings, read some reports, and vote on some things?

Or do you challenge them to be active participants?

In the for-profit world, it’s recognized that promoting human values can be inspirational. As Sue Bingham wrote in SmartBlog,

“To create an inspired, high-performing workforce, leaders should promote five basic human values: positive assumptions, trust, inclusion, challenge, and recognition.”

But you can’t cherry-pick among the values. Employees can’t trust each other if they’re not included in the conversations. They won’t be challenged if you have negative assumptions about their abilities. They don’t feel valued if you don’t recognize their passion and skills.

The same is true for your board members. If motivated employees achieve more when the bar is set high, how much more might this be true for individuals who volunteer for a cause in which they believe?

It begins with recruitment.

A board of motivated individuals starts before they join the board. How you recruit board members makes a difference in how successful your organization can be. When you first approach a prospective board member:

  • Can you articulate the purpose of your organization – your WHY?
  • Can you articulate what the board is trying to do?
  • Do you show prospective board members the latest strategic plan and ask what they think?
  • Do you ask them how they want to contribute to its success?
  • Do you tell them about the excellent people they’ll be working with if they join the board?
  • Do you ask them to share what it is in their own life journey that makes them passionate about your cause?

Asking questions like these engages your prospective board members in the future of the organization. It sets them up to be active participants in the work of the board.

Then, at the start of their board service, give them the opportunity to share their answers with each other and the existing members of the board. Magnify the engagement and ask existing members to share as well. Far from a touchy-feely exercise, shared stories build trust and camaraderie that carries through to working together.

Then challenge them to set their bars high. Your new board members – and the existing board members – are motivated to achieve the plans. Together, they can find ways to surpass any turbulence they might encounter in their execution.

For more tips about building an engaged board, strategic planning, and board-executive partnership, follow me at www.detwiler.com, or reach me at sdetwiler@detwiler.com.