Monday, March 27th, 2017
I dedicate this post to a friend who works herself to the bone, achieves great things to benefit others both on and off boards of prominent organizations and who coined the name “do-nothings” in a recent conversation about a project we’re both involved with.
I’ve been on and around boards for years, a previous member of co-op, three industry and three not for profit boards and on countless committees that depend on board member support. The do-nothings who are consistently invited back to direct or support projects are the ones that puzzle me because they hold things up. Do-nothings populate them all.
There are exceptions: Some work smart and hard and do spectacular jobs with miraculous results but frequently it is they who are tossed to the side without a second thought. The do-nothings, with hearty pledges for follow up information and tempting inflated promises that all come to naught are consistently invited back!
In addition to “life isn’t fair,” I know what you’re thinking: The do-nothings have connections or big bucks. Not always so! In addition to bankrupt elbow grease, some bring to the table neither access to financial support nor prestige. What they do accomplish: They waste other people’s time.
As incoming president I started to attend committee meetings of one organization to see if there were any outstanding people I’d want on my board. This was the suggestion of a past president. I told a trusted colleague that so-and-so stood out with great ideas and energy. The trusted colleague warned, “Hot air. She talks a good game and never comes through.” I realized how easy it is to be duped.
What is the do-nothings’ secret? Why do boards–or managers or bosses–tolerate them especially if they contribute neither stature nor funds, only agita? How do the do-nothings live with themselves and dare to accept responsibilities they never fulfill?