How to Be a Good Board Member [Qualities and Habits]

  • By: RedPen
  • April 27, 2022
How to Be a Good Board Member
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Wondering how to be a good board member? Read on for the key qualities and habits of the most effective board members.

Good board members are well connected, have expertise in a particular field, and go the extra mile to help the board achieve goals quickly. But that’s just a fraction of what makes a great board member. This guide outlines crucial habits and characteristics of effective board members.

Read on for actionable tips about how to be a good board member (and bonus tips on how leaders can encourage good board members).

8 Qualities of a Good Board Member

The characteristics of good board members go beyond the level of education and work experience. The following are the most vital qualities of a board member who advances an organization’s mission. 

1. Eager to Participate

Whether attending each board meeting or volunteering at events, board members who enthusiastically contribute to the board’s activities are precious to an organization. And when their activities further the organization’s mission, such as fundraising to support programming or speaking publicly on the organization’s behalf, it’s even better. 

To be a good board member, identify where you can add value, and then offer your skills and time to the organization in that area. Leadership loves when board members pitch in without them even having to ask.

2. Willing to Share Ideas

Many policy changes and board decisions require thorough discussion. To be a good board member, share your ideas in these conversations. Who knows? You might have the right solution. Receiving varying perspectives on a topic helps the board make crucial decisions backed up by reason.

3. Always Prepared 

Preparedness for meetings is one of the most superior qualities of a good board member. A board member who knows the meeting’s agenda and committee reports saves everyone’s time by eliminating inefficiencies that prevent board meetings from proceeding smoothly. You can also come prepared with questions based on board agendas to further discussion and contribute in a meaningful way.

4. Committed to the Board

Being a great board member requires dedication. This includes setting aside time to participate in board activities. Create a calendar of board meetings and event dates so you don’t forget. A devoted board member is attentive, collaborative, engaged, and inquisitive during board meetings, and raises their hand to help when needed.

5. Innovative and Forward-Thinking

Good board members always look for opportunities to improve their governance techniques and increase their knowledge regarding board services. For example, a board member can take advantage of leadership classes, conferences, and workshops to learn more about board responsibilities. Even better, they share that knowledge with the rest of the board as a result. 

When senior board members mentor less-experienced members, they get to learn from each other. This collaboration helps your board make decisions faster and better.

6. Understands Responsibilities

Different board members may have different responsibilities, depending on the organization’s governance model. For example, the chairperson of a board of directors facilitates discussions among members and ensures meetings are as effective as possible. On the other hand, a nonprofit board may create committees and assign the members specific tasks, like fundraising.

Good board members should know their roles in the organization. This enhances accountability within the board and ensures tasks are completed as required.

7. Collaborative and Engaged

Engagement and collaboration are crucial characteristics of good board members since they enhance teamwork. For this reason, great board members should talk and listen to each other. Doing so allows for issues to be handled with input from people with different backgrounds and perspectives. 

8. Passion for the Cause 

What makes a great board member? Great board members are passionate about their roles and participation in the board’s proceedings. Such board members are ready to go the extra mile to take the organization to the next level. An organization benefits the most from board members who genuinely believe in the mission and are enthusiastic about helping the organization grow. 

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4 Ways to Encourage Board Members

With complicated communication systems and poor board organization, even the best board members will experience burnout. A good board member is hard to find, and that’s why encouraging board members proves crucial. Board members perform best within an empowering culture with good infrastructure. Here are some best practices to support your board members and make them feel inspired. 

1. Prep Board Members 

If you want to boost the productivity of great board members, provide them with everything they need to be prepared ahead of time. This includes meeting agendas and board materials that outline their specific role and expectations.

Board chairs and CEOs should prepare for board meetings by sending any pre-readings or requests that require advance preparation and verifying all key participants will be in attendance.

2. Arm Boards with the Right Tools

Board management software provides a central location to store board documents that are accessible anytime, which helps board members access meeting agendas and other important documents independently. 

OnBoard’s platform includes board assessments, which empower board members to measure their performance against an organization’s goals. A company’s board is its lifeline, and providing tools that simplify board functions keeps members happy and productive. 

3. Reward Exceptional Behavior

Rewarding great work inspires board members to keep it up. A simple thank you card or cup of coffee helps people feel appreciated. You can also plan larger team outings or catered dinners to reward the entire board and boost camaraderie. 

The reward method you use depends on the nature of your organization. Understand your board members and find thoughtful ways to recognize exceptional service. 

4. Build a Mentorship Program

Creating a mentorship program empowers your senior board members to be even more productive and helps bring new board members up to speed faster. Through a mentorship program, your board members will establish a culture of collaboration, which fosters good governance and better decision-making. 

Mentorship goes both ways, and a mentorship program allows people to learn from each other.  As a result, board members will adopt the culture of embracing different opinions and perspectives. Finally, effective onboarding and mentorship empowers board members to hit the ground running.

Equip Good Board Members with OnBoard to Tackle Board Business Like a Pro

When looking to support your good board members, you can streamline everything for them with OnBoard board management software. This powerful technology enables board members to collaborate seamlessly through reliable communication channels. Board members can easily access documents from a centralized place anytime, from anywhere.

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Contact us  or start your free trial today to see how OnBoard takes your board’s experience to the next level.