~~ The Electronic Gazette for Volunteerism
are volunteers, too! Look
here for infomation and the latest techniques to develop your
board or committee. The purpose is to help those who work
or serve on nonprofit boards of directors or committees.
Difficult Board Members
The Egotist: "Self Over Mission"
can be difficult volunteers. Sometimes I think they are really just
insecure and have a compelling need to occupy center stage, but they
can monopolize board meetings and terrify or bore other board members.
following are some of the characteristics I have seen in people who
are more focused on their own ego than on the mission of the group:
to win arguments: They talk too much and never say, "You're
right," or "I was wrong."
with committee reports: The feel compelled to differ regularly
with the hard work of others by coming up with some new "facts"
that they are sure the committee hasn't considered. Sometimes, even
when the egotist is a member of a committee, he/she will, it seems,
deliberately stay away from meetings so that he/she can have an opportunity
to assert a different opinion at the time the board is presented with
prior positions seemingly in midstream: Egotists will argue one
way at a board meeting and then come to the next meeting with a different
position and not acknowledge the shift in gears.
staff and other volunteers: No one, of course, ever knows as much
as they do. They might say, "We should run this organization
like a business" (their business, of course). They have a desire
to micromanage the staff; and may even imply that only they themselves
have the depth of feeling necessary to care about the constituency
do about the egotist?
the board will eventually tire of this person and cease to pay attention
to him/her. However, such people will extract a price in terms of
the patience of both board members and staff. The chair will worry
about losing good member.
chair will make sure that the egotist doesn't dominate ("let's
hear it from the rest of the board"). The chair can also find
an ego-gratifying assignment for this person that he/she can do alone
so that they don't have to interact with other board members or staff
important is to find ways to focus egotists' attention on the mission,
vision and values of the organization. Make sure they make site visits,
get to know clients and hear from committed staff and volunteers.
Perhaps then, their need for further influence and power can become
a positive rather than a negative force.
sources for information on boards and committees:
bookstore for Jeanne Bradner's book on boards: The Board Members
Guide: A Beneficial Bestiary and Leading Volunteers for Results: Building
Communities Today. Also check out Risk Management: Stragegies
for Managing Volunteer Programs by Sarah Henson & Bruce Larson