Unfortunately, too many board members sign up for a list of initiatives and actions, then fizzle out and deliver a marginal work product - or nothing at all. Not only does this frustrate board chairs and other active members, but it can set operations back weeks or months, sometimes more.
The saying ’If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it‘ is one of those truths which initially seems counterintuitive. ‘Wouldn’t you want to instead give it to the person with more time on their hands?’ you might ask. Until one realises there’s a good reason busy people are in high demand. It’s not because they’re circus freaks who enjoy performing the octopus juggle; they’re the sort willing to make sacrifices, go the extra mile, and ensure the vision is executed. Failure, for them, is simply not an option – and because they are busy, it’s likely they’ll appreciate the value of time, theirs and others, and not want to waste it.
While tempting to stack the board with those who claim they can devote time because they’re not busy, consider that once they find a new job or the going gets tough, there will suddenly be more reasons for their unavailability or failure to produce. That isn’t to say, however, many retirees or otherwise more available candidates can’t bring excellence and quality input to the board, because many do.
There is, of course, a caveat. Too much dumping on high performers becomes an ultimately destructive habit. They’ll burn out, become resentful, or the occasional thing might slip through the cracks. If this member is the organisation’s leader, this can lead to self-protective actions which result in unfair charges of Founders Syndrome, and incites a cycle of criticism from directors trying to deflect or hide their own lackluster contributions.
Delegating and involving other team members is a well-rounded approach which strengthens and empowers the board to successfully represent the entity and its community base. It also pays to calibrate or reframe so members are recruited who can successfully gauge their contributions, and use well-developed time management skills to ensure commitments translate into real and meaningful work.
--From "How to Avoid the Pitfalls of Nonprofit Hell"