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Illinois Parks & Recreation
May/June 1994 Volume 25, Number 3


How Not to be an Effective Board Member

by Dr. Ted Flickinger, CLP
IAPD Executive Director

If you are looking for ways to alienate yourself from your fellow board members and the chief executive, here are a few suggestions that will probably guarantee success:

Talk too much and listen too little.
Publicly criticize a board decision that was voted on and passed by the majority of the board, but that you did not specifically support.
Demonstrate to fellow board members that you have all the answers for every issue.
Refuse to change your mind on any issue regardless of the evidence that is presented.
Fail to read board packets and prepare for the board meetings.
Divulge information from an executive board meeting.
Refuse to compromise when decisions have stalemated.
Ridicule past board members and the decisions made by the board before you became a member.
Try to give instructions to the chief executive as an individual board member.
Hold grudges about fellow board members when they do not agree with you.
Try to dominate conversation at every board meeting.
Resent the salary of the chief executive because it is more than you make or more than your spouse makes.
Arrive late at board meetings and leave early.
Remind fellow board members, "it's always been this way in the past."
Appear at park sites or facilities giving orders to employees.
Want the agency to be a haven for hiring friends and the politically deserving.
Constantly criticize and question board policies and the executive decisions, and compulsively dissent on almost every issue.
Do not try to know or understand other people who serve on the board with you. (Team building begins by knowing your teammates.)
Have no interest in being educated on good boardmanship.

There is no such thing as knowing all you need to know about the diverse and complex job of serving as an effective park district or forest preserve board member. You were elected or appointed to the board as an amateur, but you are expected to be well versed and educated on issues affecting park and forest preserve districts. You have volunteered for the job, but the job demands that you are knowledgeable about the issues for which you need to make decisions and policies. If you can't make that commitment, then you should consider letting someone else have your seat on the board.

6 * Illinois Parks & Recreation * May/June 1994

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