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Calling All Board Candidates

by Jim Douglas Brown

posted in Business

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The board Chair had just introduced the agenda item-Finding Nominees for the Board. The silence that followed led to expressions of defeat on everyone's faces. They all had experienced the difficulty of trying to get board members to serve.
Finally, Walt spoke to the cloud of hopelessness and frustration that filled the room. "We have to stop this negative thinking and do something different. Since we've had so much trouble with this before, I suggest we hire someone to help us do a better job of bringing in new blood." The motion passed after a brief discussion and Walt accepted the challenge of finding the person to take on the project.
The response that came from the advertisement the governance consultant coached them to run in their newsletter was encouraging and remarkable:
Big-Picture Thinkers Required!
Please help us identify excellent candidates to serve on our board of directors. Our board is a governing board that focuses on directing and protecting in the interests of our membership - the owners of the organization. Successful candidates will have:
• Passion for our organization's vision and mission
• Ability to analyze information and make policy decisions
• Commitment to contribute to the board as a member of a team
• Time to dedicate about 15 hours per month to board business
In addition, we are particularly interested in finding someone with expertise in finance and accounting. If you fit this description, or know someone who does, contact the Nominations Committee at ______________________________
What Can You Do?
1. Make a realistic inventory of the qualities and skills desired and currently brought to the board. Use this inventory to highlight gaps between those qualities and skills that are important or ideal and those that are actually exhibited on the board.
2. Discuss as a board your collective expectations of a new board member. What traits and skills are important? What time is required?
3. Communicate the opportunity to members in a compelling and informative manner. Get help if you need it.
4. Have a clear plan to respond promptly to inquiries and expressions of interest. Don't miss the opportunity to convey professionalism, passion for the organization, and interest in the person connecting. Every member is a candidate to serve somehow, even if not on the board.
Are Your Ready for the Responsibility Revolution?
In Saving the World at Work, Tim Sanders explains that we are now in a "Responsibility Revolution" that will be "more influential than the quality revolution of the 1970s or the Internet revolution of the 1990s." As board leaders, we will not want to miss the opportunities of this major shift, or bear the costs of ignoring it.
With alarming clarity, Tim describes the Responsibility Revolution in action today.
• 78 percent of young workers say money is "less important than their personal fulfillment." They want to work for companies that promote equality, a green environment, and social responsibility.
• 65 percent of Americans are willing to switch to a brand associated with a good cause if price and quality are relatively equal.
• Almost half of all consumers use the Internet to figure out if the actions we take and the products we buy are socially responsible.
• Socially responsible investments have attracted almost twice as much money as the dotcom revolution did 10 years earlier.
Tim writes not as one born with this view of the world, but as a thoughtful reformer - indeed, revolutionist - who has embraced a new vision for companies to prosper and leaders to make this possible.
Consequently, he recognizes the importance of making the case for those of us who have been so busy charging down our own paths that we have not yet noticed how irreversibly the landscape has changed.
Thinking our organization - whether for-profit or not-for-profit - can just keep plodding along and ignore the Responsibility Revolution is like leading with our eyes closed and our ears plugged.
What Can You Do?
1. As you Direct your organization through strategic planning activities, consider how the trends above apply to your scenario.
2. Reflect on past performance and look for signs of similar attitudes impacting results.
3. Consider what additional steps can be taken to foster or add momentum to the 'responsibility revolution' in your organization. By the way, in the book, the author lays out concrete steps to take that can either serve as a blueprint or a discussion guide.
About the Author: A bestselling author and gifted presenter, Jim has coached key leaders through structural reorganization, constitutional malaise, and a myriad of other challenges. With a background in curriculum development, Jim develops consulting services tailored to clients' business needs. His Master's degree in economics has honed his ability to focus on the most important. Book Jim Brown as a keynote speaker by calling 519-766-9033 or emailing

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