By Donya Parrish, MCU VP-Risk Management
The headline might have made you think of a children’s game. We played it in my neighborhood, and everyone seemed to know the rules of whatever version of tag we played despite there never being a rules committee convened or explanation provided. The reference here, though, is more about the process of becoming the board chair. That might also come without any guidance, but it is too important to just figure it out down the road.
Some boards have a regular rotation and change the board every two to three years. Members might move through the officer roles and become the chair after serving as vice-chair, or the chair might simply be the one who was asked. No matter how it happens, the board chair is a powerful and important position and a role that can provide a positive blueprint for future board officers.
In addition to noting that the chair “act[s] as the credit union’s leader in decision making, problem-solving, and coordinating the actions of the board with the members and staff,” CUNA’s Board Duties and Responsibilities book lays out four specific responsibilities for the chair:
- Setting the tone of meetings, relationships, and communications
- Leading the meetings of the board and membership
- Building consensus for discussions that lead to votes
- Making sure the board acts in a timely manner, including not postponing tough decisions
Most former chairs, whether from your credit union or from another, are willing to offer suggestions on things they found worked and even those that didn’t. Reaching out to friends and colleagues who have chaired other community organizations can also lead to helpful dos and don’ts. And a quick Google search turns up a variety of books, articles, and trainings, too.
Having a former chair mentor a newer chair for a period of time is a great option, but I would love to hear from YOU. If you have a tip or suggestion you would like to pass along, please let me know. I will compile any I receive and share them back in a future blog.
My personal suggestion for new chairs is to go in knowing that you have things to learn but to be prepared for your role by understanding the timelines, requirements, and items you are bound to in bylaws and practice.