John wasn’t concerned as he headed to the board meeting that evening. They had been down this road before and the board had backed him 100%. Boy was he in for a surprise. He couldn’t understand why on this occasion they decided differently. As he walked away from the meeting that night he thought to himself, “it’s the last time I’m going to make a decision on my own. I don’t need this grief. Now I have to go to the committee and tell them their idea has been killed.”
Boards want their leaders to lead, to make decisions without feeling they have to run back to them every time. To realize this, however, they must be consistent in their decision making. If they are not they unwittingly undermine the confidence and effectiveness of leadership, as well as frustrate volunteers. Creativity is stifled because leaders never know if their ideas will be embraced or given the thumbs down.
To avoid inconsistency, here are a few questions a board should ask when making any decision:
1. Is this our responsibility to decide or have we delegated this responsibility to leadership?
2. Have we dealt with this issue or one similar to it in the past?
3. If so, what was our decision then?
4. Have circumstances changed that would lead us to make a different decision?
5. Who is affected by our change in position on this issue?
6. How can we communicate our change of position to those affected so they will understand?