Friday, January 3, 2014

Agenda item: Defining 'governance'

NOTE: In the spirit of making this blog's 2014 nonprofit governance agenda as practical as possible, I'm adding a new feature: the "governance agenda item." These brief posts will pose a priority, action item, critical question - something that moves the conversation forward.

Agenda Item 1: Articulate a common definition of "governance" for the board.

Clarity of purpose - and individual expectations - is the most essential of essential steps toward ensuring successful board performance and leadership that has an impact. My bias toward the Governance as Leadership framework should be obvious - it's the centerpiece of the blog's agenda. But whatever your board uses as the foundation, members need a common understanding of what is expected. They also need an inspiring picture of how their collective leadership will make a difference.

Boards need to spend time up front developing that group clarity. Then they need regular opportunities (e.g., conversations, self-assessment processes) to reflect on their progress and identify issues.

A board member job description is one critical part of that process. (Does your board have one?) But it's more than that. You also need that common sense of why you're here - how you lead as a group and how you're collectively advancing the vision and mission of your organization - and processes that help members stay focused.

What does your board need to create, or enhance, your collective sense of commitment and purpose?

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