Secret to Getting Boards to Address Critical Issues

by Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc, Melos Institute*

Productive meetings are imperative if boards are to make decisions, move the mission forward and generally, function effectively. But sometimes a ‘big hairy dead moose’ can hinder your board’s progress.

In this article, Trish Hudson, MPsSc (President, Melos Institute) and Marcia Holland, CAE (President, Outcomes Unlimited, LLC), demonstrate the importance of using tools to build essential personal leadership skills with your volunteer leadership team. The authors explain 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.”

One solution suggested by Marcia Holland, is the “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 their members.”

 To read this article, click on the link below.


* The Melos Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit independent think tank focused specifically on
addressing the challenging issues that have persisted within membership-based organizations.

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