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Board Member

Manage an organization.

What does a Board Member do?

Board Members are elected or appointed members of the boards of directors of organizations like corporations, nonprofits, and universities. Because they’ve got lots of employees at the bottom and a single CEO at the top, many of these organizations appear to be dictatorships instead of democracies. But the truth of the matter is: They’re democratic bodies whose CEOs report to boards of directors.

That means as a Board Member, you have the power to advise, direct, and decide your organization’s activities. You and your fellow Board Members do this by majority vote.

Your job as a Board Member is governance, not management, which means you look at the “big picture” rather than the details. In addition to attending regular board meetings, common duties include creating mission and vision statements, establishing organizational goals and creating policies and procedures. You may also hire or evaluate a new CEO, approve annual budgets, and answer to stakeholders. What you don’t do is just as important: You don’t implement, you initiate. You don’t drive, you steer. You don’t administer, you advise.

Basically, you’re a visionary leader and a strategic decision maker. No matter your compensation, therefore—nonprofit Board Members are typically volunteer while corporate Board Members often are paid handsomely—your perks include both status and sway.