I’ve been training boards for years, and each time I have everyone take our Asking Styles Quiz. As often as not, there are as many introverts as extroverts on the board, and I’ve often seen Mission Controllers (analytic introverts) the most-heavily represented.
Given the fact that boards are mostly a group activity, that might surprise you. At first it threw me as well.
As an introvert I’ve mostly steered away from boards because they involve so much group dynamic and socializing. Rather, I’ve helped by offering free fundraising advice or doing hands-on work (my most rewarding work has been as a CASA – check them out at nationalcasagal.org).
Yet my research and work in the field have led me to reconsider whether I’d join one as I now understand how valuable we are. Without us introverts, boards can’t do their best work.
The strongest boards represent a wide range of talents and perspectives. We probably get that in general, but let’s see how it plays out in a key board area – strategic planning.
As you can see above, your board members all come to the table seeing the same situation in different ways and through different values. While they hopefully share the organization’s vision, they vary in why they support that vision and what’s important to them in measuring your organization’s impact.
If your board members don’t bring all four perspectives to the table – strategy, vision, heart, and plan – it’s likely your next strategic plan won’t be as strong as it needs to be.
Yes, you need Rainmakers and Go-Getters to think big and strategically about the future. They see the grander picture clearly and fearlessly. Often, they see things others of us cannot.
However, if you don’t have our introverts, you’ll be missing two key elements.
Without Kindred Spirits, you might very well end up too focused on outcomes measurements. Though having some metrics and evaluative process is important for any organization, not everything can be measured quantitatively. You need our Kindred Spirits to remind everyone that you’re doing this work because you care… and that you’re impacting people’s lives.
Without Mission Controllers, you could end up with big ideas that just aren’t plausible. Vision is important, but you risk flying too close to the sun if your vision isn’t backed up by solid plans and systems. Mission Controllers make sure your goals and vision have a road map, and that you follow your heart… when its attainable.
Let’s take another example – fundraising. At Asking Matters we stress that relationships are key to fundraising, and building those relationships is the most important role board members can play. Our goal is to get away from the terrible transactional fundraising so many board members are asked to do.
When we work with boards, we look at building relationships through our Asking Styles. The Asking Styles help us understand our strengths and challenges, and we can easily see how those will impact various relationships.
As a Kindred Spirit, I can sometimes feel uncomfortable with Rainmakers, but give me a fellow Kindred Spirit donor and I’m golden. We both come from the same perspective and we will bond over the stories and feelings we share with each other.
If you only have extroverted board members and you have an introverted donor who needs more attention, it will be harder to find that match on your board, all other things equal. When you’ve got a range of introverts and extroverts, you’ll find it easier to pair them with donors successfully.
In both strategic planning and fundraising, two key areas of board responsibility, introverts are key to the equation.
So, if you’re an introvert and wondering if you should join a board, keep in mind that you will be invaluable. While the group dynamic might be challenging, a good board leader will find ways to make sure you feel comfortable and valued.
If you’re a board leader, executive director, or other nonprofit person trying to build the strongest board, you underestimate us at your own peril!