3.2 Building the Right Board Culture

With the significant size and scope of work of Impact100 Boards, collaborative, efficient board culture doesn’t happen by accident. Here are some tips to creating a board experience that draws the best leaders to your team and keeps them coming back.

Effective Communication: Board Members should receive the Agenda and all supporting documentation 5-7 days in advance of the Meeting. Be sure Committee Reports are received by the Board Secretary at least a week in advance of the meeting so they can be included in the Board Packet. 

Be Consistent: Establish a regular schedule of meetings, with agreed upon start and end times and locations. Send calendar invitations to the entire board and work to stick to the agreed upon schedule. 

There will be times during the development of your Impact100 chapter where longer meetings or more frequent meetings are needed to fully execute the work. These should be exceptions that are well communicated but should not become the norm.

Follow the Impact100 Model: This may sound obvious, but organizations that consistently follow the Impact100 Model are more successful than those who do not. Mission drift can happen without intention. Assign a Board Member the responsibility of being the “conscience” of the team, proactively assessing each communication and policy for alignment with the Impact100 Model. 

Set the Agenda & Follow It: The Board Agenda should be established based on input from the team and communicated in advance of the meeting. A timed agenda can be very helpful if the presenter and the President set an agreed upon time frame for reports. 

Come Prepared: Establish the protocol early that all members of the team are present and prepared at every board meeting (even if they participate remotely). This means that each board member has read the entire Board Packet and any other instructions, arrive with appropriate materials on time and are not disruptive. 

Board Retreats: One of the best ways to really solidify your team is through a Board Retreat. Held annually, Impact100 Board Retreats should be a combination of social connection, education and strategic planning. Retreats are an ideal venue to pass leadership from one President to the next, to set board expectations for the coming year and to really get to know your fellow leaders. The best timing is about a day and a half – including one overnight stay. 

Develop Trust: In some cases, trust develops organically, especially in your start up years. In the early stages of an Impact100 chapter’s development, there seems to be a never-ending list of things to do. Friendships are forged and trust is built simply by working together executing the Impact100 Model. 

As your organization grows, we often do not get to witness the efforts of every team member. In these cases, we want to be intentional about sharing our successes and our challenges. These can be done at Board meetings through the practice of “Mission Moments” where board members share stories of leadership they have witnessed from someone on the team.

Establish a World Class Reputation: Women should be honored to be considered for a leadership role in your Impact100 chapter. Your board should always be populated by the community’s strongest and most capable women. Your board should be of the highest integrity and efficiency, always comprised of women committed to this work and to their community. 

Be selective in who you invite into your leadership and then hold everyone to the same high standards.  

Have brave conversations when necessary to nudge an underperforming board member back on the right track. Our culture is the result of what we tolerate.