Having sat on a board for almost ten years, I continue to be astonished at how little most volunteers know about what the job entails. While it is important to volunteer your time for this position, there are things you must know in advance in order to prepare for what is ahead.
Every shareholder should consider donating their time to their board. It is a very humbling experience, but also an enlightening one. Board service can actually be rewarding if you are fortunate enough to have shareholders who understand what is involved and are willing to assist.
If full board service isn’t for you, then at least consider joining a committee. Once you see what is involved, hopefully, you will learn to appreciate those who do serve and understand the extent of the commitment some of your fellow shareholders have made for your best interest.
Here are some important factors that one should understand regarding what effective board service really means.
- To be a truly effective board member, you must trade short-term self interest for long-term commitment.
- Board service means, the building and shareholders often come first—before you, your family and your career.
- Board service means taking calls, emails and letters almost every day, and addressing them.
- To be a truly effective board member you must check your ego at the door and listen twice as much as you speak.
- To be an effective board member you must be willing to sacrifice any and all personal gain for the betterment of the group.
- You must have rock solid integrity and honesty that cannot be swayed for any one individual’s interest over the whole.
- You must be willing to volunteer all of your time, attention and resources to making the co-op a better place than when you began.
- You must learn every part of the building, its personality, its history, its people, its value and its place in the community.
To be an effective board member you must communicate as much as possible even if no one appears to be listening, because that will be most shareholders’ number one complaint.