Many mistakenly believe that it is the president’s role to take the lead and make the tough decisions. I would suggest that it is their role to help guide the board’s discussion process so that the board can make the difficult decisions. A good president will follow the agenda and keep the board meetings running on time and efficiently. A GREAT president will do all of the above, plus ensure that every board member has a voice at the table. Drawing out the thoughts and insights of quieter board members and ensuring their thoughts are “heard” over those of the outspoken board members. Parliamentary procedure, when followed, can aid the president in successfully presiding over a meeting where important matters are introduced, discussed and decided upon.
It is also the president’s role to propose the agenda for the board meeting. He/she will do so based on unfinished business carried over from previous meetings and from new issues that have arisen since the last board meeting. The president may call for agenda items several weeks prior to the meeting and then pare the submitted items down to critical meeting business. While the secretary is responsible for creating and giving proper notice of board meetings, it is the president’s role to ensure that critical issues find their way to the agenda.
Delegation is also critical. Everyone seems over-committed these days and finding people to step-up and volunteer can be next to impossible. A great leader has the knack for asking others to take on a specific task or responsibility.
Lastly, the president must also chair the annual meeting of the membership. This can be much more challenging than the board meetings based simply on the sheer number of attendees. He or she must find the delicate balance of allowing the membership to speak out on issues at the appropriate times. Again ensuring that the most vocal members do not “run down the clock” leaving no time for others to be heard.
There are many natural-born leaders, but most folks arent’ born with all the skills needed to effectively serve as president. It takes practice, time and effort to develop them. Don’t be discouraged if every meeting isn’t stellar… do the best you can and keep working on developing your leadership style. The end result will be rewarding.