While serving on a board, there are times when you may find yourself in a position where comments are made that are not in alignment with your perspectives and personal values.As a board member, it is incumbent upon you to state your position and to do so in a professional manner. A fellow board member’s remarks may be a dominant response that is strongly influencing the perspective of others. This may require that you pause, restrain your initial reaction to be blunt, and choose to be gracious.
The art of being gracious
Maya Angelou stated, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
8 tips to model graciousness
- Know the difference between disagreeing and being disagreeable
- Give others your full attention, listen intently to fully understand other perspectives
- Temper your sense of justice
- Be supportive of others, especially when there is disagreement
- Reflect on your social skills
- Guard against using ungracious expressions such as “whatever” or “thanks”
- Treat others with dignity and respect during every interaction
- Show grace under fire
According to Deborah Zimmermann, DNP, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN, CNO and VP of Patient Care Services Virginia Commonwealth University Health System, “Serving on a board, particularly one that is not-for profit, can be a joyous experience. As nurses, we are typically operational, and it is rewarding to use our expertise and leadership in new ways that benefit our communities. That being said, asking clarifying questions for the purpose of common understanding is core to our being. When I am intimidated by the many brilliant minds in a boardroom, I reflect upon what nursing brings to the table and then do my best to model the 8 tips of graciousness.”
Call to action
Think before you speak in the boardroom. As a true professional, lead by example by thoughtfully considering all perspectives, then speak up in a manner that will contribute to consideration of the implications of decisions, with the goal of supporting the best outcomes for all.
M. Lindell Joseph, PhD, RN, AONE Board of Directors and The University of Iowa College of Nursing
Laurie Benson, BSN, Executive Director, Nurses on Board Coalition
Nurses on Boards Coalition (2017). Board Core Competencies.