As a board team, your goal in decision making should be a compromise that is reasonably satisfactory to the entire board. Teamwork does not necessarily mean unanimous votes. There may be times when board members have strong minority opinions concerning the board’s position on an important issue. Having differing views and votes is healthy and essential to good decisions. However, if opposing views keep your board from acting as a team and supporting decisions once they have been made, they can be damaging to your effectiveness.
A divided board occurs when votes almost always split along factional lines, regardless of the issue. Here are some tips for rebuilding a divided board:
- Define your mission and vision as a board through planning, retreats or other processes. Help members see their part in reaching the vision.
- Select a board chair who can lead the group toward unity and cohesion.
- Ask board members from neighboring districts to sit in on your meetings and later relate their perceptions of your board’s stumbling blocks.
- In difficult cases, consider getting an impartial third party (such as a mediator) to help your board work out conflicts or differences.
Few situations are more damaging to the board or the organization than to have individual board members publicly working against an action of the board. Once a vote has been taken, dissenting board members should support the democratic process by supporting the majority decision.