By: Jacqueline M. Leib
Executive Assistant to the Head of School and Board of Trustees, Lake Forest Academy

 Many of us not only work with the CEOs of our companies, we also have the luxury of working for the company’s Board of Trustees.  Now some of you might say LUXURY??? And I would say yes!, luxury.  We are privy to knowledge that no one else in the company is privy to. This is a true gift when wanting to be a strategic partner to your CEO.  It also makes our work easier as we can see things coming down the pipe and we can be proactive.  All things that make us the amazing EAs that we strive to be and that we are.

Below are three suggestions to “up your game” when working with the board.

1. Know EVERYTHING! – One of the most important aspects of our support is knowing the Bylaws inside and out.  What is the minimal amount of trustees your Bylaws require?  What is the maximum?  What are your term limits? Are there any exceptions? These are just a few items from our Bylaws that have come up in meetings that I was able to give the answer to so we could continue working.  It is imperative that you take ownership of knowing the Bylaws and stay on top of any changes that are made from year-to-year.  Knowledge is power and brings you closer to being a strategic partner with your Chairperson.

2. Become a strategic partner to your Chairperson – just like we strive to be the partner that our CEO needs, it is important to put that effort into working strategically with the Chairperson of the Board.  Offer to help put together the agenda for meetings, offer to tackle a project for a committee.  You not only help the board, you increase your knowledge and become more valuable as a partner.  Cultivating this relationship can relieve stress from your Chairperson and you will not only have a seat at the table, you can push your chair into the table and be ready to participate.

3. Re-engineer the year – I have to give credit to Melissa Peoples of EA Revolution and Shelagh Donnelly of Exceptional EA for this idea.  Taking the year of Board meetings and committee meetings leading up to the board meetings and re-engineering them with things such as a 2 week and 1 week reminder notice for each of the board and committee meetings, a date to have minutes completed and approved for each committee meeting, a date to have each committee’s agenda items listed and approved, and a date to have supporting documents submitted for all of the meetings are just a few of the ways you can re-engineer the year. Strategically planning all of this in advance and communicating it to board members, liaisons and recorders helps everyone to know what is expected of them and when.  As a bonus this will also alleviate emails and phone calls to you asking when something is due.

I love working for our Board of Trustees and the Chairman and getting asked my opinion on something or being asked to dinner to discuss items further helps me with my imposter and reassures me that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and want to be.

Pull up your seat. The meeting is about to begin.