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Dynamic Chiropractic Canada – March 1, 2009, Vol. 02, Issue 02
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Effective Board Membership

By Gene G. Veno

The economic crisis has affected every facet of life, including board membership in professional associations. To maintain the faith of your organization's members during this difficult economic climate, it is important that all board members understand how to be effective in their positions.

Over the years, I have managed and consulted for many diverse associations and organizations. In every case, the single key factor dictating their success was active participation and attendance by board members. The best board members of the most successful organizations attend all meetings. If you miss more than two consecutive meetings, you should weigh the circumstances behind missing the meetings and seriously consider relinquishing your board seat.

As a board member, imagine yourself as a top political player. It is your responsibility to set policy and be an advocate for your organization, both at meetings and in the public forum, just as a politician might. It is a necessity that members of a successful board be equipped with positive talking points to be articulated to both colleagues who have associated with your organization and those who have not. It is impossible for you to be prepared to advocate for your organization successfully if you are not at board meetings. And as a good board member, it is part of your job to be an ambassador for your organization by educating legislators and colleagues on the many programs and actions you are providing for your profession.

It is vital to your organization's success that you prepare for board meetings as you would prepare for an important meeting in your office. Your board will have an agenda to discuss and vote on, and it is necessary that you are prepared to vote on all of these topics. Good board members will come to every meeting with questions and solutions to each topic up for discussion at that particular meeting. Simply showing up and complaining about issues without offering specific solutions is not a good use of your time and authority, or the time and attention of your members. (To maintain your authority, it is also important that you understand and follow Robert's Rules of Order. )

Woodrow Wilson once said "It is not far from the truth to say that Congress in session is Congress on public exhibition, whilst Congress in its committee rooms is Congress at work." Many board members also serve on committees. To be a member of a committee is an even bigger commitment than being solely a board member. A committee meeting is a convening of some board members and staff to address a problem and develop solutions than can be brought back in front of the whole board for their consideration and possible adoption. It is important that, as a board member, you have a full understanding of the issues of the committees that you may serve on so that when you address the entire board, you can be seen as a higher authority on this specific issue than board members who are not on the committee.

Being a board member is similar to being a very active volunteer in any organization. Board members give of their time and energy, just as a volunteer would. The paid staff members of the organization appreciate your volunteerism and respect your other commitments, and you must do the same. A good board member will encourage the staff and support their daily activities whenever possible. You are all part of the same team - the chiropractic association.

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