I taught the first webinar in NYSArts’ board development series last week. (There are two more webinars left in the series and you can sign up for them by going to www.nysarts.org.) The focus of the conversation was on board recruitment and training.
The lesson I hope I successfully transmitted was that bringing great talent to the boardroom is much more than that – it takes planning, skill identification, networking for the right person, lots of communication once that person is identified, followed by a support system that enables that person to do their best job should they agree to join the board.
Far too often, especially for smaller boards or boards that are simply disorganized, the new board member recruitment process is an afterthought, hurriedly undertaken just before elections are held. This method may fill board seats, but does it facilitate the matching of talent to the changing needs of an organization?
It strikes me that board recruitment should be more about the future than the now. If an organization is intent on building a board to meet its needs, doesn’t it make sense that it should look for the talent it will need for the next 3-6 years, which is a typical term of office for a board member?
That approach may also help some boards diversify – if nothing more than to get beyond the same or similar skill sets to a more complementary set of skills and talents.
Photo: Illinois Arts Alliance board meeting, 6/25/2008. Flickr