DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently joined an organization that is going through a lot of changes. One of the board members never shows up for meetings, or when he does, he is late and often hasn't done what he has agreed to do. It is a real drag on the rest of us who are working hard to do our parts. The bigger problem is that nobody wants to say anything to this guy because he's a powerful leader in our community, and he has been on this board for a long time. What is the proper way to address someone like this? I want to be respectful and also get results. -- Looking for Strategy, Washington, D.C.
DEAR LOOKING FOR STRATEGY: Start by speaking to the board president about protocol. Are there rules in place for members who do not carry their weight? Point out your concerns about this particular board member, and ask if the board president would be willing to speak to him privately about his conduct. Depending upon the size of the board, it may be that even though this person is not contributing as much as some of the others, what he does contribute is substantial enough to balance it out. That happens a lot on larger boards. It does not excuse his tardiness, of course, but it may point to why his behavior gets a pass.
One way to potentially get this fellow to be more engaged is to attempt a personal relationship with him. Ask if he will speak to you offline about one of the projects you are shepherding. Attempt to enlist his support in something that the board is doing, and see if your personal touch lures him back in.