Top 5 Signs of a Successful Board

  • February 23, 2021

    Posted by: Tracy Douglass

    Over the years, we've delivered hundreds of workshops to boards of directors about their roles, responsibilities, financial oversight and how to manage meetings. With all this exposure to boards of every size and purpose, from small working boards to formal boards with million-dollar budgets and layers of employees, there are signs that tell us if the board is operating successfully or not.

    We know a board is operating well, regardless if the organization is small or large, when board members:

    1. Know their priorities - Boards of directors are responsible for setting the strategic direction for the organization and that direction is outlined in their strategic plan. This plan details the goals that are to be achieved over the next 3 - 5 years and sets the priorities for the work of their committees, their board meeting agendas, and their budget.
    2. Know their finances - Speaking of budgets, board members are ultimately responsible for the financial health of their organization. Board members, all of them, must understand their financial statements and make sure their budget reflects the priorities in their strategic plan. The community, funders, donors rely on the board to oversee that the money the organization is given, is used wisely to achieve what they've said they would.
    3. Know their duties - Board members have the legal duties of Care, Obedience, and Loyalty. These duties are specified in the Corporations Act, yet they are frequently unknown or misunderstood. Not following these duties can result in personal liability to board members, dysfunctional board meetings and conflicts of interest, causing irreparable harm to the organization.
    4. Know their boundaries - Board members should be passionate about the organization and the work that it does. However, the board has a role distinct from the staff and volunteers who provide the programs and services. The best practice is that board members are to set direction and provide oversight; they state what should be done. The staff then determines how to do it. To help remember the board's role, think of the board having eyes in, but fingers out of the operations.
    5. Know their worth - Board members should know what skills, experience, and strengths they bring to the board table so they can make a meaningful contribution to discussions and decisions. If there are members who aren't contributing, this might be the reason and indicates recruitment and onboarding could be improved.

    Now that you understand the signs of a successful board, are you seeing these signs on your own board?

    If not, we can help! We offer workshops, resource packages and coming soon we will have a new distance learning options (Like us on Facebook to find out first)!


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