Inspired by the Emerging Leaders program, last month I had the opportunity to observe a board meeting for our organization. As this was my first board meeting experience, I was unsure what to expect.
Overall, the meeting was well-attended and board members were very engaged. Our Chief of Research (my direct supervisor) presented an excellent overview of our student and teacher data from the previous school year. I was especially impressed how board members interacted during this part of the meeting. Members had specific questions about measurement tools, national averages, etc. As a person who spends the majority of my time working with data and trying to find ways to communicate the data in concise, meaningful ways, it was helpful to observe what data were of interest to board members.
In days following the board meeting I had the chance to debrief the meeting with the president and CEO of our organization. Meeting with our president was an equally educational experience as he has years of experience serving on multiple nonprofit boards. Notably, during our meeting, it was mentioned that a recurring potential challenge for board members (not specific to our board, but members in a broader sense) is the diversity of roles within board members. This has the potential to lead to confusion and warrants discussion surrounding expectations and concrete responsibility setting.
While reflecting about my experiences with our governance procedures it occurred to me that many of the topics (if not all) covered by the Emerging Leaders Program are directly applicable to participating on a non-profit board. The power of networking, knowing one’s strengths and weaknesses, emotional intelligence and managements skills, trust-building, and presentation skills are all components that work together to create a successful board member.
In the coming months, I am looking forward to developing a more influential style of communication and fine tuning my leadership style. This summer I also plan to volunteer to serve on a nonprofit board with hopes of using my newly honed skills and experiences from the Emerging Leaders program to give back to the non-profit arena.