After reading the results of the 2015 Survey of Board Professionals, I found the main takeaway to be that “the role of the board professional is as complex as it is complicated.” This statement is the essence of our work, from agenda building to fielding calls from board members. Wait, the president just called and has a special project that needs immediate attention…no day is ever the same.
Thinking back to my first few months in this role, I realized even then that there would be much more to this position than planning three board meetings a year. My pathway was through alumni relations, which I believe served as a solid baseline for understanding volunteer engagements strategies, event planning, and how to work with multiple stakeholders. However, the complexity piece is something I learned over time.
Not only are board professionals responsible for the relationships, the logistics, the documents, and all of the legal implications associated with maintaining those records, but there is also the often unwritten responsibility of serving as strategic advisor on many subjects. When wearing that hat, anything is on the table, and that’s when emotional intelligence kicks in.
The board professional knows the dynamics of the board members, layered on top of institutional culture, melded with the expectations from the chief executive officer of the organization.
It’s our job to know how to navigate it all while trying to maintain equilibrium and keep all parties on the same page. It is an art - and not everyone is cut out to be an artist.
The Outstanding Board Professionals Award recognizes some of the exceptional individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the board professional profession. Evaluation of nominations is based on the following criteria: long and exemplary service to the institution and governing board the individual serves; significant impact on the profession; extraordinary insight and knowledge about the profession; and contributions made to the profession, such as professional development, leadership, and mentoring. Nominations are due January 15, 2016.