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Secret to Getting Boards to Address Critical Issues

Is there a “big hairy dead moose” hindering your board’s progress? 

OK maybe your organization doesn’t have a dead moose but you may have, on occasion, encountered an “800 pound gorilla,” or an ‘elephant in the room.’

Having productive meetings is imperative for boards to function effectively in order to make decisions, address critical issues and move your mission forward. But if something (an important issue - dead moose) or someone is paralyzing your board’s progress, it’s important to offer the training and tools to improve the group dynamic.

Offering skills and tools to improve group dynamics and promote productive meetings

In a new article in our Membership Knowledge Hub, Trish Hudson, MPsSc (President, Melos Institute) and Marcia Holland, CAE (President, Outcomes Unlimited, LLC), demonstrate the importance of using tools to build personal leadership skills with your volunteer leadership team. 

They explain that a “great deal has been written surrounding key issues like crafting an agenda …that not only advances the organization’s goals, but also values the time contributed by the participants.” However, “if we do nothing to help our volunteer and staff leaders become comfortable embracing essential leadership behaviors, we may indeed find ourselves in a circuitous discussion loop that repeatedly fails to identify and address the underlying problems that keep our organizations from progressing.” 

In other words, a big hairy beast or elephant in the room can hamper decision-making and “those decisions … [might] have direct impact on the association or better yet the profession, trade or personal avocation it represents.”

Hudson and Holland's article explains that the “social pressures that exist within the kind of homogenous groups that exist within associations can be enormously debilitating,” so staff and volunteer leaders need to find ways to make it easier “for a member to be the outlier…the one who is willing to say what must be said…to bring the ‘creature in the room’ to light and to life.”

Consider the Dead Moose Rule

One solution suggested in the article, is Holland’s “Dead Moose Rule: If there is an unspoken issue that is hindering the staff/board member in any way, or is causing strife among staff members, we commit to identifying the issue, talking about it openly and calmly, and resolving it in some way.” The article explains how you can customize this rule to fit your organization and also includes a PDF of the ground rules that Holland uses to successfully help facilitate meetings.

By setting some ground rules and creating a safe environment for members to acknowledge and address the “dead moose” or elephant in the room, Hudson and Holland suggest that your board will be better able to make difficult decisions that will “produce meaningful outcomes for [your] members.”

You can link to the full article – Secret to Getting Boards to Address Critical Issues – in our Membership Knowledge Hub – here.

Image source:  Moose sign courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com

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Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Posted by Lori Halley [Engaging Apricot]
Published Thursday, 18 October 2012 at 9:01 AM
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