Leadership Matters: Are my board members afraid of the snow?

Dear Erica,

I know this sounds funny, but as winter hits, I’ve found that fewer and fewer people are coming to board meetings. We have a large board, and maybe they think as the executive director I don’t notice, but we all do. I didn’t know Jewish boards also have snowbirds. Are they all in Miami?

Is it appropriate to say something to them?

Alone in the cold

Dear Alone,

You are not alone. You are surrounded by board members who do put on their winter boots and do come to meetings. But it’s true that nothing is harder on a meeting or event than a douse of rain or a dusting of snow. Some of us must be made of sugar!

Some people do not like to drive in inclement weather, particularly on iffy snow days. Others do not like to have their hair messed or come into a boardroom unnecessarily moist.

Today it has become more popular for non-profits to have board members sign volunteer contracts that explicitly state, among other important details, attendance requirements. The number of meetings, the time, place and the expectations of attendance should all be clear when the calendar year starts. No excuses.

As an executive director, it is important that you speak to your chair or president to remind board members of attendance requirements. If attendance gets low in November, the chair should send an email reminder noting the decline and asking people to be more thoughtful in this arena. If people are anxious about driving in bad weather, you can always offer to arrange a carpool or two as a gesture of kindness.

Alternatively, you can hold your next board meeting in Miami!

Dr. Erica Brown is the scholar in residence at The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. Her new book is “Return: Daily Inspiration for the Days of Awe” (OU/Koren). Are you a Jewish organizational or synagogue leader wrestling with a tough issue? Send your question to LeadershipMatters@jta.org.

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