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This week, Anne Chaired her first meeting of the Executive Committee and she invited me to sit in. This is a new role for Anne, and I know this first meeting was very important to set the tone and expectations of her leadership.

The first order of business was to welcome the Committee members and have everyone introduce themselves to the group.

Anne went last and included her aspirations for the organization during her 2-year term. Her aspirations were descriptive rather than prescriptive and invited conversation about collaboration and contribution.

Anne believes in clarity. To that end, she shared a draft set of Guidelines for the Executive Committee to work together as a highly productive force. I thought you would be interested in learning about Anne’s approach.

The purpose of the Guidelines is to make everyone feel safe, welcome, respected, and appreciated.

Anne first told the group five things they could expect from her as the Chair:

  1. Create a safe environment, inclusive and free of judgement.

  2. Challenge members to learn and grow together.

  3. Encourage members to expand their skills and abilities.

  4. Keep members informed of relevant developments in other areas of the organization.

  5. Hold everyone accountable for their commitments.

She then introduced ten things that all members of the Committee, including the Chair, could agree to:

  1. Have fun! We are volunteers contributing our time, energy, and expertise to make our organization successful – let’s enjoy our time together!

  2. Think big! To challenge the status quo and pursue excellence.

  3. Participate fully. To speak up. To come prepared, having reviewed materials distributed beforehand. To provide updates as agreed.

  4. Be transparent and make full disclosure of relevant information.

  5. Make commitments we can fulfill. Say “no” when we do not have the capacity or desire to fulfill a request.

  6. Be accountable, and hold each other accountable, for following through on our commitments.

  7. Be respectful of one another including:

    • Allowing others time to express themselves.

    • Challenging ideas in a constructive manner.

    • Arriving on time and participating in the whole meeting.

    • Responding to meeting invitations and other requests promptly.

8. Make connections with and between other members.

9. Plan for succession – have a vice-chair for each subcommittee.

10. Measure our success in terms of standard metrics and against our guiding principles.

Anne invited the members to contribute additional items and/or object to anything they did not agree with. The Guidelines will be reviewed and approved at the next Executive Committee meeting.

I thought this approach worked well for this Executive Committee leading a volunteer organization and especially liked that Anne led with fun!

What do you think, could this approach work for Leadership Teams and Boards of Directors?

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