After installing the chief elected officer, he or she receives a leadership manual and a briefing. They are somewhat “on their own” to establish their governance style.

To encourage and guide the elected president, make up a swag bag.

A swag bag is an assortment of items that complement an event or experience. In this example the executive director is gathering the items that will enhance understanding and support good governance.

Here’s what’s in the president’s swag bag.

Gavel: The gavel is a symbol of decorum and order at a board meeting. It can be used to call attention to an issue or bring order to the meeting.

Squirrel!: Directors are known to be distracted like a dog chasing a squirrel. An idea is thrown on the table and directors chase it up at tree and down a rabbit hole. Keep the squirrel on the board table to remind directors to focus on the agenda and strategic goals.

Perfect Board Primer: What better message than to encourage a board to be perfect. The 100-page book is a primer on board basics.

ABCs of Parliamentary Procedure: The 16-page comic book format instills confidence in rules of order. You won’t hear crickets when the president asks, “is there a motion and second to get this on the floor?”

Weeds Sign: There is an altimeter for governance. The board works at the 50,000-foot level; committees at 25,000 feet and the staff implement their vision and strategies. The sign is a constant reminder. A Nevada association designates a different director at each meeting to be the keeper of the weeds sign.

Board Cheat Sheet: A guide to fiduciary duties. Convenient reminders for the president and board to distinguish governance from management.

Bookmark: A subtle prompt to keep the board focused on governance, leaving management to the professional staff.

Lisa Flowers, CEO at the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce in Texas said the squirrel on their boardroom table works. “We had the squirrel in our board meeting this month and used it several times to prompt directors to focus on agenda items. It serves as a light-hearted reminder.”

Finally, include bottled waters and protein bars to give the chief elected officer sustenance for the year ahead.