Photo by Dylan Gillis
We’re now well and truly into the new Term. No doubt you’re just about to head into another board meeting, or you’ve just had one.
Board meetings are always potentially stressful places. The main reason for this is because it involves people and their personalities. A Board meeting can be fraught with all sorts of issues for a principal or leader to navigate.
Get it right and the meetings you attend and provide crucial advice and guidance too will be perfect; they’ll hum! Get it wrong and it can be as painful as a train wreck!
Because of this, it’s important to remember some key points. These are my top ten no brainers for working alongside your Board.
- Always have an open mind. Be equally prepared to be right or wrong. A board is meant to work like a mini democracy. That means that the majority rules. Sometimes your vote will be in the majority and sometimes it won’t. Don’t stress it either way.
- There is a reason why you have two ears and one mouth – listen more than you talk. This gives you a two factored advantage. Firstly it’ll appear that you are a very considered professional, and secondly it gives you time to pause, reflect and contribute positively and not as a knee jerk reaction.
- Seek to understand and be prepared to ask your own questions if you are not clear about the reasoning behind decisions being made in a meeting
- Go into a meeting, any meeting well prepared. You might never have all the ducks in a row, but turning up as a blank canvas isn’t a good idea.
- Never feel pressured to answer questions or to lead discussions feeling ill prepared or off the cuff. You might feel experienced enough to do this, but I can tell you, I’ve found myself in some difficult situations when I thought I could just wing it.
- Work hard to build a positive relationship with your Presiding Member. If you want your school to hum, then you need the full on support of this person. This means putting in the time to build up an understanding between the two of you that is mutual, respectful and even caring. You need to know that you have the support of your presiding member and they need to know they have your support.
- Don’t allow new items to be added to general business that you have no idea about. Make this clear with your Presiding Member that all meetings should be “no surprises” meetings. If it’s important enough for the Board to want to know your thoughts and opinions, then it is important enough for them to show you the respect to be well prepared. This goes both ways … no surprises for your Board, or for the very least your Presiding Member.
- Your Board is a diverse group of diverse thinkers, with diverse backgrounds, diverse opinions and diverse agendas. This includes you.
- Have a really solid understanding of what being a professional means to you, as an individual. This is often a value based opinion that may differ in the eyes of others, but nevertheless it is who you are, and makes you unique. The Board chose you because they saw something in you. Be that professional, not one that you think you have to be .
- Have fun. Laugh, celebrate, enjoy.
Being on a Board should always be a rewarding prospect. You’re in an amazingly privileged position leading a school. This is the same for everyone on your Board.
Help build a culture in your Board that is inclusive, supportive, caring and then you’ll see your school really begin to hum.