Choose a board strong enough to hold the campaign manager accountable.
The campaign also needs a strong board. The manager will do their best if managed (not micromanaged) by a strong board. There’s a balance required. A manager will fail if not given decision-making authority by the board; the board has to empower the manager and be able to live with a strong manager. On the other hand, the board needs to regularly evaluate the manager. Everyone performs better if they are held accountable at regular intervals for reaching mutually agreed-upon benchmarks—that includes the manager. A strong board will include people who are terrific managers and generalists, who have a broad grasp of the key aspects of the campaign, and who have a broad relationship with the larger LGBT and allied communities. A strong board will also include people with specific expertise, particularly in those areas of the campaign where the campaign manager is less knowledgeable or inexperienced. The experts may serve as advisers rather than board members, but their involvement must be ongoing and regular, not occasional. They must be deeply engaged or they are not particularly useful. A strong board must be prepared to support the campaign manager’s quick and decisive action, or to initiate action with the campaign manager, particularly if the general consultant and/or other consultants are not meeting deadlines or performing satisfactorily. Such action may include terminating consultants when necessary.
The board can include a mix of long-term and short-term members. A strong board includes people who serve for the entire length of the campaign because the continuity and history they provide can be invaluable. A strong board also includes people who serve shorter terms, some as short as several months. Some experts will only be able to be deeply engaged for a brief period, given the rest of their schedules. It is better to have a fully engaged expert serving on the board for a brief period than to starve the board of expertise.
It is beyond the scope of this report to describe in detail the range of meritorious ways to recruit a board. The single most important principle, however, is to make sure the group includes people who
· are highly knowledgeable about some of the most difficult aspects of the entire enterprise (this can include knowledge of important parts of the campaign and/or well-established relationships with key parts of the LGBT and allied communities);
· will ask clear, probing questions when key decisions are being considered;
· are capable of consensus and deferring to others when appropriate, and yet possess the self-confidence and judgment to ask probing questions, speak up when something doesn’t make sense, and stop the group from succumbing to groupthink;
· are willing to make a significant commitment of time, at least for a specific term. The term may be as brief as a few months or for the time it takes to accomplish a specific task, such as hiring the campaign manager or raising the first $10 million. But during their term, board members must view this as a serious commitment and put aside time accordingly, including time to participate in regular face-to-face dialogue.