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Boardmanship Insights
How to become a more effective board member

Dr. Ted Flickinger
Dr. Ted Flickinger
IAPD Executive Director

Are you an effective board member? Do you promote teamwork?

To be effective, a board must operate as a team. Teamwork is what board governance is all about. Teamwork can be described as a board of diverse individuals that comes together to apply their collective talents, experiences, wisdom and expertise to help the agency be all it can be.

Team Quiz
How effective is your board as a team? "No" answers mean board training and team-building should be implemented immediately. (Circle answer.)

1. Do all board members understand the mission of the agency and their responsibilities? yes no

2. Do all board members comprehend the difference between policy-making and policy-implementation? yes no

3. Are board members comfortable with disagreements? yes no

4. Are debates civilized? yes no

5. Are hidden agendas not tolerated? yes no

6. Does the board evaluate its effectiveness as a team at least annually? yes no

7. Is there an ongoing board training program? yes no

8. Are all board members familiar with the budget, financial procedures and revenue sources? yes no

9. Is everyone on the board well prepared for board meetings? yes no

The Board Member Nobody Wants
You're not one of these board members, are you? The board member who:
violates the confidentiality of the board's deliberations;
runs to the press when board decisions do not go his way;
can't support the majority's decisions (If you can't, consider resignation from the board...everyone gains.);
second-guesses board decisions with which you don't agree;
sees one's position as a board member as a way to obtain special privileges;
issues orders to the executive or staff;
reprimands the executive or his staff;
undermines the authority of the executive.

What Do You Expect from the President?
Sometimes the president's only job description reads, "The president shall preside at all meetings of the board." It is more prevalent that a board describes in detail the duties and responsibilities of the president. For example, the president shall do the following:
Serve as the agency's spokesperson.
Assist the chief executive in preparing the board meeting agenda. The president will generally allow the chief executive to develop the agenda but will provide input for the agenda and review it before the board meeting.

Teamwork can be described as a board of diverse individuals that comes together to apply its collective talents, experiences, wisdom and expertise to help the agency be all it can be.

6 * Illinois Parks and Recreation * March/April 2000


Conduct board meeting in a businesslike manner with a congenial and cooperative atmosphere. The president starts the meeting on time, follows the agenda, and insists on courtesy for all members.
Preside at all board and executive committee meetings. The president keeps the business flowing, diplomatically guards against wasting time, knows the issues, and leads the board to effective decisions. If a board member gets bogged down in trivial matters, the president intervenes by saying, "We will leave the details of this matter to the chief executive." The president obtains motions as soon as possible and focuses discussion on a central theme. We don't want to approve the minutes and waste the hours.
Try to include all board members in the discussions, especially those with minority views. The president serves as the moderator when disagreements arise.
Try to avoid closely contested actions for board decisions. If the votes appear to be even, the president should consider postponing action for the next meeting. Or the president may appoint a task force representing both points of view to study the matter and make a recommendation for a mutually acceptable solution.
Summarize the discussion on an issue for the record and state the motion correctly prior to calling for a vote by the board.
Sign authorized contracts.
Appoint all committees subject to board confirmation. Serve as an ex-officio member on all board committees. The president attends as many committee meetings as possible to become familiar with an issue but does not preempt the committee chairman. The president is a visitor at committee meetings.
Give directions to the chief executive. The president has no independent authority to influence the chief executive; advice is unofficial and lacks vested authority. It is the president's task to administer the board, and the chief executive's task to administer the agency. 

Recognizing the many benefits of parks and recreation, and the great work that our agencies do for their communities, Gov. George Ryan has proclaimed June 2000 as Parks and Recreation Month in Illinois.

This is an ideal opportunity for agencies to plan special events for their communities and to promote the value of all their programs and services. It is also a time to thank your board, staff, advisory council members and volunteers for all the work they do for your agency.

IAPD has sent member agencies a replica of the proclamation for use at the local level, plus a packet with tips for how to celebrate and a sample news release. You can also find this information on the IAPD Web site, www.ILparks.org.

Here are some excerpts from the "Celebrate Parks and Recreation Month" tip sheet.
Promote a Park Pride Day and encourage community groups to beautify public spaces and area parks.
Sponsor a Here Comes Summer Party. While people are having fun, hand out information about upcoming events and the benefits of parks and recreation.
Hold a Community Appreciation event to thank your board, staff, advisory councils and volunteers for the great job they do all year long.
Sponsor a poster contest for elementary school children to promote your celebration.
Encourage your local garden club or horticultural society to make one week in June (Your Community) In Bloom Week.
Create a bulletin board display for a local hospital or health clinic highlighting the individual benefits of recreation and physical activity.
Feature your special events and activities on the agency Web site.
Change the message on your answering machine to promote June as "Parks and Recreation Month" in Illinois

For more information, see www.ILparks.org or call IAPD at 217.523.4554.

Illinois Parks and Recreation * March/April 2000 * 7

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