Effective board members have a number of traits in common, yet it is important to realize that these characteristics are not acquired instantly.
Knowledge, skills, and experience are not enough. Board members must be open to learning new information and gaining new knowledge and insights. An effective board member understands the importance of representing and serving all of the district’s students. Board work is not always easy; board members must possess courage and a conviction toward public education and the democratic process. Serving on a board takes a commitment to making important decisions and fulfilling responsibilities in all areas of board work.
In addition, an effective board member must have time and energy to devote to the work of the board, the ability to accept the will of the majority, respect for education as a profession and the ability to communicate well with others.
Another way to identify the effective board member is to observe the way in which board responsibilities are carried out. An effective board member makes every attempt to attend all board meetings and prepares for the meetings in advance by reading and analyzing the agenda and supporting information. Effective board members resist springing surprises at board meetings, abide by board policies and rules, and wait to make personal decisions until all the evidence is in and board discussion is over.
An effective board member strives to foster unity and harmony among the board and differentiates between problems that require board action and those which should be solved by administration. This board member supports the superintendent’s or chief administrator’s authority, shares responsibility for board decisions, accepts and evaluates criticism and advice objectively, avoids personality conflicts and strives to improve personal boardsmanship qualities.