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Identifying the Right Leaders

The BOC Board of Directors prides itself on being a high performing board through diligent tracking of trends in the athletic training industry and keeping up to date on best practices in association management. In doing so, the BOC is changing the process for selecting Athletic Trainer (AT) directors to serve on the BOC board from public election to board appointment. The goal of this transition is to make appointment decisions based on board competency needs rather than candidate popularity.

Over the past ten years there have been eight public elections at the BOC and the average participation from Certified ATs elections has been 11.75%. Additionally, the new selection process will keep the AT director selection process consistent with the public, physician and corporate educational director positions that currently operate by board appointment.

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Research Foundation recently stated that over 50% of boards are moving to appointment versus election. According to a 2019 research study by leading association management experts William Brown and Mark Engle, DM, FASAE, CAE, titled “Building Better Association Boards: Advancing Performance Through Nomination, Recruitment, and Selection Processes, “The findings pointed to ascertaining board competencies as the most influential step to having a high-performing board.”

The main subject of Brown and Engle’s report was the Board Member Competencies and Selection study conducted by the ASAE Research Foundation. In their report, Brown and Engle state, “Successful boards drive the strategic direction of an association toward achieving its mission and vision, making it critical to have the right people leading the charge.” Brown and Engle go on to say, “Ascertaining competencies and skills for board members is the most influential and effective step to practice for better board member performance.”

The ASAE Research Foundation study explored nomination practices among a sample of 2,964 executives from the ASAE membership database. Valid responses were received from 342 organizations for an 11.5% response rate. Respondents were asked about general nomination and election processes, including how candidates were nominated, whether they have a nominating committee and how they conducted board elections.

ASAE Board Member Competencies and Selection Study Summary
77% indicated their organizations have a committee for board member recruitment and selection
67% believed that improvements could be made to their processes
56% provided job descriptions for their board members
55% agreed that their board members had the necessary experience and background to manage tasks effectively
52% indicated they have non-competitive elections

The BOC has found that the right mix of competencies contributes to higher board performance, such as skills, characteristic and other important attributes. According to J.A. Conger & E. Lawler, III in the article “Building a High-Performing Board: How to Choose the Right Members” published in the Business Strategy Review in 2001, “Other important attributes such as personal attributes that reflect the candidates personal approach to the professional environment are commitment, integrity and capacity.” Conger and Lawler explain, “Capacity refers to an individual’s ability to take part in the governance of the organization. This means the board members must have the time and cognitive capacity to fully engage.”

When discussing the process for board selection, there are three important steps: assessing current board competencies to identify gaps, recruitment of qualified candidates and appointment of a new board member. The BOC board commits to a transparent and fair process as we move forward with this transition. We take a closer look at this process below.

The Governance Committee is responsible for assessing the competencies of the current board against the needs of the organization both in relation to BOC strategic priorities and to identify skill and expertise gaps. The board looks at how the individual candidate will contribute and bring needed skills and capabilities to the group as well as compatibility. After gaps are identified, the BOC announces a call for applications or nominations to ATs or other (e.g. physician) appropriate populations. Candidates are asked to review the “BOC Board of Directors Appointment Guide” for desired characteristics and specific position requirements. All BOC board positions, including AT directors, the physician director, the corporate/educational director and the public director must meet specific requirements as defined by the BOC bylaws.

General qualifications for all board members include:

  • Does not hold elected or appointed office on a state, provincial or national regulatory board.
  • Does not serve on the Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE), National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) or NATA Research and Education Foundation Board of Directors.
  • Demonstrates experience with oversight boards (e.g., NATA, CAATE, state athletic training organization, corporate structure, public or non-profit organizations).

All applications received are then reviewed by the Nominating Committee. The Nominating Committee will evaluate candidates, through a combination of written responses to questions and interviews, based on general and specific requirements for the position(s). The Nominating Committee first selects candidates who qualify for a phone interview. Following phone interviews, the committee selects candidates to move on to the final selection where candidates must submit a statement and video answering the question, “Why should I be appointed to the BOC Board of Directors?” Finally, the committee will provide the BOC board with at least two candidates per director position for consideration.

After receiving the final candidates from the Nominating Committee, the board will then assess each candidate’s skills against the current and future needs of the board. The board will also take the following into consideration when selecting finalists and ultimately appointing a new board member.

  • Diversity – Board member diversity considerations include gender/gender identity, racial identity, geographic diversity and professional setting.
  • Board Participation and Attendance – Board members need to be active and committed to attending and participating in face-to-face board meetings, monthly conference calls and board committee meetings as well as advocating for athletic training and the value of certification.
  • Leadership, Guidance and Vision – The BOC requires individuals who can share perspectives on issues and solutions related to the credentialing of athletic training, the health care environment and the needs of patients. Strategic leadership coming from the BOC board is critical for the organization to achieve its ultimate purpose.
  • Image and Stature – The BOC is a thought leader among the members of the AT Strategic Alliance. Board members need to meet the image of the BOC while understanding the bigger picture affecting the athletic training profession.
  • Skills and Expertise – Board members should help to fulfill the needs of the BOC by offering skills or expertise to fill gaps in the current board as identified by the Governance Committee.

The change in appointment versus election process will help the board maintain a cutting-edge philosophy on governance by assuring we have the right individuals with the right qualifications necessary for service on the BOC board. It is this self-awareness of competency and areas in need that make the transition from public election to board appointment an important and strategic move that will benefit the BOC and our stakeholders.

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