Back in March, I attended Durham Women Take No Bull, an event hosted by the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce that celebrated International Women’s Day with two multi-generational panels of successful women. The focus was on women in the workplace (whatever that means for each woman), and one of the discussions that’s still with me was about building a personal board of directors.
Since I run a nonprofit, I know that board composition and management is incredibly important. The board’s insight is invaluable when it comes to making big decisions about the organization, so it’s critical that the board in comprised of the right mix of people: backgrounds, personalities, skillsets, etc. Building an active, engaged board is a challenging task, but it’s essential to the success of the organization.
If you think of yourself as your own entity (and you are) with a vision, a mission, programming, and overhead (can’t ignore overhead!), who would you recruit to be on your personal board of directors? Who’s already on it? What expertise, leadership qualities, and resources do they bring to the table—your table?
Build a Better Board has a great worksheet for nonprofits to assess their board composition and identify needs. Check it out and see if it would be helpful for you! It might require some tweaking; for example, I wouldn’t expect my personal board to give me money or fundraise for me, but you get the idea: think about your personal and professional goals and populate the rows based on what you need to reach them.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t include a little bit about diversity in here. One of the quotes I wrote down from Durham Women Take No Bull was:
“[You need a] network of people who are not like you, who will be honest with you, and who you can be honest with.” (I don’t remember who said it!)
And from Build a Better Board:
“A homogeneous board may not always be ready to deal effectively with problems due to an inherent near-sightedness. Diversity on a board breeds varying opinions, approaches, attitudes, and solutions. It requires open-mindedness, curiosity, acceptance, and responsiveness, which can ultimately facilitate understanding and willingness to work together.”
Now get out there and surround yourself with your biggest fans—but ones that make you do better. Happy board-building!