Dear League Leaders,
Elisabeth's Leader's Update yesterday reminds me that's it is the season for nominating committees to get into gear to work towards building a strong LWV board for their League. I gathered a lot of good information about the nomination committee process and published "The Little Green Book" in 2009. Please take a moment to glance through it or watch thePowerPoint presentation about its contents.
We are a small, poor local League. No one good will want to sit on our board. So we will take who we can get. Once those people are on the Board, we can’t demand much of them, because they are just volunteers. We can’t ask them for a letter of commitment, for example, or require that they be at meetings, because they are busy people. And we certainly would never demand that they read their board materials and be prepared before meetings!
We are having board problems. Many board members don’t show up for meetings. When they do show up, they are not prepared. They have nothing to add except criticize.
We’re losing a lot of our board members. Sometimes we can’t even get a quorum. Where can we recruit that we can get good board members this time?
If this sounds familiar, you're not alone, and there are solutions! Solutions are found in reframing how we offer League leadership (from a “chore” to an “opportunity”) and in incorporating succession planning into the work of the League. They include four important steps:
1. The Board must relearn what it means to be a board and relearn what their job is within that role.
2. The Board must institute a strong recruitment and orientation process. Replacing the "woe is me" approach with an approach that shares enthusiasm for all the great developmental opportunities for new leaders, as this will help strengthen their League’s ability to do great things.
3. Build a strong Nominating Committee that remembers how much the League has meant to their own personal lives and brings people in with that energy.
4. Be clear with candidates about the expectations and time commitments for serving on a League board. And be flexible enough to create opportunities for people to serve who have limited time and offer differing talents to the Board team.
All of us have been told that the Nominating Committee is the most powerful committee of any board. Annually, this committee selects directors and, usually, officers as well. Yet, within many organizations, a closer examination of the Nominating Committee and its operations suggests that its power is not well used.
A recent election at a local League…
- The Nominating Committee met once, six weeks before the annual meeting, in order to identify good people for the Board.
- A handful of individuals were discussed, including: the next door neighbor of one committee member ("She's very nice."); the office mate of another committee member ("I'll bet I can get him to join."); someone's mother-in-law ("She's a good worker and has lots of friends."); and a man who had expressed interest to the executive director at a United Way luncheon.
- At the meeting, the Nominating Committee agreed to recruit these individuals. They were contacted by telephone over the next month and asked to join the Board of directors. All but one agreed and they were duly elected.
This unsatisfactory approach to board development can be altered with the intervention of a better nominations process.
So take a break and read more!