6 Attributes of Exceptional Board Members
The key ingredients in an exceptional association board are, quite simply, exceptional board members. But that leads to the question: What personal attributes are required to be a great board member? We’ve compiled some common characteristics often found in exceptional board members. If board members strive to possess these qualities, they may be better equipped to serve their association and achieve its mission.
  1. Passion for the Mission: Great board service is rooted in a passion for the mission. While there may be a variety of reasons that drive individuals to be volunteer leaders, a strong desire to fulfill the mission of the association must be one of them.
  2. Respectfulness and Collegiality: Directors with diverse opinions that aren’t afraid to speak their minds are essential to high-functioning boards. This can result in heated discussions, so it’s important to stay calm, composed, and respectful at all times. It should never get personal. A spirit of collegiality is an essential quality to ensure that board members maintain a good working relationship and keep the board’s focus on the greater good. Boards must strive for consensus on all issues, so board members must be willing to support the majority, even if they disagree.
  3. Open Mindedness: Great board members are inquisitive and open to new ideas and opinions. They strive to gain a full understanding of the issues, trends, and other factors that could impact the association in the future. An open mind is a key to being forward-thinking.
  4. Dependability: Board members need to be absolutely committed to the task at hand and be dependable and accountable to their colleagues and the association. That means being prepared, attentive, and present at all board meetings. Being dependable also means having the time required to fully commit to the role.
  5. Knowledge and Expertise: While experience is important, exceptional board members aren’t necessarily those that have the longest and most impressive résumés. They do possess, however, the knowledge and expertise about the industry or profession that’s needed to serve the association well.
  6. High Character: Character matters. Great board members need to have integrity, and be ethical and honest. They are representing not only the association but the entire industry or profession, so they have to be above reproach in the way they act and interact with others. They must appreciate the awesome responsibility that is entrusted to them as a board member and conduct themselves accordingly.
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for 70 years.


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