Yet another one of those things easier said than done. No one's perfect. Who could argue with that? Dr. Erich Longie has a lot more experience being a successful board president than I do, so I tend to listen to him.
What do you want as board president? One thing is you want your fellow board members to trust you. BUT do you trust them? Here's Erich again:
"Sometimes as a president you don't communicate with your fellow board members because you don't trust them. That might be because you just don't know them well enough, in which case you need to have the generosity to give them the benefit of the doubt. Or you might have a reason to mistrust them in which case you need to be honest about it. Tell them you aren't giving them this information because you DON'T trust them."
Why don't we tell people what we honestly think about them? A lot of different reasons, I would imagine. We don't like conflict. We want people to like us. We want to be seen as a team player. In truth, we just don't want to face the consequences.
Yet, like the ACLU board member I quoted in my last post said, what is it that we are really afraid of, it's not like they're going to send you to Guantanomo.
So.... I will be honest and say here are what I think are my biggest faults as a board president.
- I don't trust my fellow board members very much. Sometimes it is for a good reason, e.g., they have leaked confidential information. Other times, though, it is just because I have been disappointed many times in life by completely different people who are not on this board. Because of this, I don't always share information with the other board members.
- When someone does something I consider unethical or incompetent, I seldom confront them about it. My reason is that I don't think it does any good and just causes conflict. Instead, I just ignore that person in the future. Maybe there is a way to turn those people around and get them back on track but I don't know how to do it. I am really fortunate that most of the people I work with are ethical and competent.
- Because I am not particularly trusting, I try to do too much myself and don't delegate enough. I am happy to say that I am making some progress on that. The great part of it is that not only are other people stepping up and really showing their talents but it also gives me more time to do things like read books or go to the movies with my 11-year-old daughter.
- I sometimes blow things out of proportion. I probably made the most progress on this one. My friend Bruce gave me a really good perspective when we were talking about a non-profit organization giving a certificate to someone who hadn't done much other than donate a lot of money. I said that it implied the person had more knowledge than they did. Bruce said,
I have found that by having the courage to face what are my biggest weak points as a board president has been half of the work of changing and becoming more effective.
And it only hurt a little.