Draft day. The most exciting day for NFL hopefuls, awaiting a team selection call. Waiting for their dreams to come true. They’ve worked extremely hard to get where they are today and can only hope that they will be handed a brand new jersey to play on a professional football team. What are the coaches looking for in a rookie? What qualities do they want to add to their team for the coming season, to help ensure a trip to the big game? In a few words: drive, determination, endurance, and agility. These young players need to be fast, able to determine the difference between attack and defense, willing to adapt to new environments and prove to be consistent and reliable to their coaches and teammates.
With these characteristics in mind, what do you look for when appointing new board members? When you’re drafting a new team to lead your association, what qualities do you strive to find? Many of the above adjectives are relevant when looking for new leaders in most organizations.
Board members need to be reliable people. You must be able to count on them to show up, step up, and execute. You need people who will be consistent with sharing ideas and keep commitments. Reliable people are much more capable of keeping others around them at ease.
You also want your board members to be resource rich: someone who will not fall off the radar after one or two brilliant ideas. Someone who can keep stepping up to the plate (or should we say, the line of scrimmage) and generate ideas each quarter.
Work ethic is not something that everyone shares on the same level. As a leader on the board, you should take initiative, pursue new skills, and have a desire to succeed. An NFL coach doesn’t want a young athlete who feels he is at his prime and doesn’t need to work to improve. He wants someone who will go the extra mile to make sure their character reflects hard work and determination. These are the same types of people who make up a successful board.
When a football team is assembled, the coach doesn’t choose the top five quarterbacks, the top 20 receivers and the top 30 kickers. He wants diversity in the skills that make up his team. He wants the best quarterback, a few great receivers and a handful of strong linemen; A group of people who can win the game by combining all of their skills.
A successful board should also never lack diversity. Take a look at gender, years of experience, level of leadership, subject of expertise, and what type of credentials they possess. You may have a chance to get the two best professors from the university to sit on your board, but that might hold you back from being able to recruit the doctor from the specialty hospital that has different experience to bring to the table. These differing experiences can generate a multitude of knowledge. Much more than the two professors with similar experiences could. Different backgrounds can collaborate for optimal knowledge sharing — it breaks away from the “stale and always in agreement” outcomes.
Whether you’re sitting down tonight, wearing your lucky hat and hoping your favorite team gets their number 1 draft pick or you’re looking over prospective board members, keep these attributes in mind.