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What Online Dating Can Teach You About Boards

Posted by Anne Wallestad, President & CEO, BoardSource on Jun 4, 2013 4:38:24 PM


By Anne Wallestad, president & CEO

Effective board service starts with the right match — the right match between an individual with the talent and commitment to make a difference and an organization that is in need of that individual’s unique blend of skills and attributes.

At BoardSource, we recently launched a new Board Recruitment Center to help organizations and individuals find each other, but the reality is that a good match goes far beyond identifying a set of skills or expertise that are needed/available. A good match goes to the heart of all successful relationships: open communication and a willingness to be honest about one’s needs.

Not unlike a romantic relationship, organizations and potential board members need to be upfront and honest about what they’re looking for and what they can offer, and need to be candid if it’s not the right match. Board members who are looking for an opportunity to build their leadership skills through a fast track to being a board chair deserve a board service opportunity that will enable them to do that, but they’re wasting their own — and the organization’s — time and energy if they land on a board where the path to board leadership is a lengthy one. Similarly, an organization that needs a board member who can be a change agent to help the board navigate an important strategic shift may frustrate or overwhelm a board member whose skill set and disposition is better suited for a more stable or established path.

Just like in online dating, the initial match is the first — rather than the final — step in a successful relationship. It’s followed by an interview (date), which gives both parties an opportunity to get to know each other a bit, ask questions, and identify if it’s a match worth pursuing.

And, also like dating, saying “thanks, but no thanks” to a match that doesn’t feel right might be a bit awkward in the short term, but it will save a whole lot of heartache and frustration in the long term.

Have a story of a successful (or unsuccessful match) that you’d like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Topics: Perspectives on Board Service, Board Diversity & Inclusivity, New Trends & Resources

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