Starting Strong: Your First Order Of Business as Board Chair
Serving as the chair of the board of directors in any association is no easy task. It requires an investment of time and effort in order to fulfill the role. Once elected, it’s important to realize that what’s ahead of you is a series of carefully executed steps that can define your role for the length of your tenure.
This is why it’s important for you to take a first solid step at the very beginning to ensure that you gain the respect of your fellow board members as well as the membership you’ll be serving. It’s also a way of differentiating yourself from the rest of the group, and it sets the tone for the rest of your journey.
Make sure to do the following within your first days and weeks as board chair.
1. Address the association body
People will look to you for insight and direction. In fact, it might be more accurate to say they will put you under a microscope. People expect elected members of the board to present clear direction and show a thorough grasp of key issues impacting the profession. Therefore, it is important for you to address the association body as soon as possible after your appointment and let them know that you are open to their questions and suggestions.
2. Get to know the staff
The staff is your best asset and will be instrumental in helping you accomplish your goals. It is critical that you get to know them and develop a good working relationship with them in your first week. Schedule a time to connect with the staff as soon as possible. This will give you an opportunity to learn about their roles and responsibilities, as well as their ideas for what can advance the association in the year ahead.
3. Meet with key stakeholders
As a board chair, you will be working with a variety of stakeholders, including other board members, volunteers, funders, and other association leaders. It would be very strategic for you to meet with them and get to know their concerns. This will help you develop a better understanding of the issues facing the profession and will allow you to identify potential areas of cooperation.
4. Review financial records and investment opportunities
Being a board member, you will be responsible for the financial health of the association. Ensure that you make an early effort to review the financial records and investment opportunities of the whole organization. This will help you identify potential areas of concern and will allow you to develop a plan to secure the financial stability of the group as a whole.
5. Share your multi-point agenda
You may have all of the brightest ideas, but if you only keep them inside your head, you won’t really gain any traction. It is important to be open about your agenda and how it relates to the organization’s overall strategic plan. This will help all members understand your priorities and will allow them to envision ways to contribute and provide input on how to best achieve the organization’s desired outcomes.
Implementing these steps during your first week as board chair will help you get off to a good start. It is important to remember that being an effective leader takes time and effort. However, if you are dedicated to the task, you can make a difference in the profession and the lives of your members and community.