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The role of a board member transcends traditional leadership, demanding a deep commitment
to stewardship. Being an effective board member requires an earnest dedication to preserving
the club’s legacy while steering it toward future success. This involves more than just attending
board meetings; it’s about active engagement, understanding the business intricately, and
championing positive changes that enhance the club’s value to its members. Here are practical
examples of what effective board members do.

Stewardship Over Leadership

Effective board members view their role through the lens of stewardship rather than mere
leadership. This approach emphasizes safeguarding the club’s legacy and prioritizing its long-
term success over immediate benefits or personal preferences. Such stewardship is not only
about making prudent decisions but also about fostering transparency, ethical governance, and
maintaining the highest standards of integrity. These efforts ensure that all club activities and
decisions align with the club’s core values and long-term objectives.

An effective board member might approach a major club renovation by conducting a detailed
analysis of its long-term financial implications and gathering member feedback, ensuring the
project respects the club’s history while adding modern features. This would involve clear
communication and ethical decision-making to balance tradition with innovation, securing the
club’s future and member satisfaction.

Understand the Business

A profound understanding of the club’s operations is essential for any board member. This
means going beyond a surface-level acquaintance with the club and diving deep into how each
department operates and contributes to the club’s overall success. Familiarity with the club’s
services, member demographics, key performance indicators, and market position empowers
board members to make informed strategic decisions and provide meaningful support to
management teams.

An effective board member might shadow the maintenance department to understand the
upkeep challenges and operational needs of the club’s facilities, then use these insights to
advocate for budget adjustments or technology upgrades that enhance efficiency and member

Commit Beyond Meetings

Board members should be visible and active within the club beyond the confines of the
boardroom. Participation in club events and initiatives is crucial as it demonstrates a genuine
interest in the club’s welfare. Engaging directly with these activities helps board members grasp
members’ needs and experiences firsthand, fostering strong relationships with both members and staff. Such involvement not only bolsters a board member’s influence but also showcases
their commitment to leading by example.

An effective board member might attend club social mixers and introductory events, taking the
opportunity to meet new members and personally welcome them. By engaging in conversations,
listening to their feedback, and connecting them with relevant club activities and existing
members, the board member helps foster a welcoming environment that encourages new
members to stay and participate actively.

Champion Positive Change

Board members play a critical role in advocating for and implementing innovation that aligns
with the club’s mission and enhances the membership experience. This could mean supporting
technological advancements or introducing new member services. Promoting a culture receptive
to change and new ideas enhances the club’s adaptability and competitive edge. Championing
such changes involves not only endorsing beneficial initiatives but also leading them and
navigating any resistance within the organization.

An effective board member might champion enhanced employee benefits, such as improved
health insurance, flexible working hours, and professional development opportunities, to ensure
the club is recognized as a top employer in the hospitality industry. By leading the effort to
improve staff welfare and advocating for these changes in board meetings, the board member
helps attract and retain top talent, which directly contributes to the club’s service quality and

The call for engaged, well-informed, and proactive board members has never been more
critical. In your role as a board member, it’s important to adopt these principles of effective
stewardship, immerse yourself in the intricacies of our business, actively participate, educate
yourself continually, and be a champion for meaningful change. Commit not just to the status
quo but to elevating your club to a new level of excellence and innovation.

Elevate Your Board’s Effectiveness with SCS

As former General Manager’s, we know the importance of having engaged and proactive board members. To ensure your board is equipped with the skills and insights needed for effective stewardship, consider partnering with Strategic Club Solutions. We partner with clubs around the country facilitating board retreats. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and make a lasting impact on your club’s future.

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Christina Watson

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