When you speak of board leadership and accountability, it becomes very important to understand what the board’s responsibilities are. Some boards have not defined the role of the board or, more importantly, the role of the board members. That can greatly frustrate an organization and especially its leaders. There are many different types of ‘Boards”.
Suppose a board member is visiting a project site and sees something they do not think should be happening. What do they do?
1. Speak up and demand change?
2. Speak to the leader and suggest change?
3. Wait to speak to the president and present his concerns?
4. Wait and bring it up at the next board meeting?
The answer all depends on the kind of Board the organization has.
Here are some examples (there are more):
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
This board directs the President/CEO of the organization and holds them accountable for the purpose and operations of the organization. They meet two to four times a year. The President manages the organization. In this case, the board member would speak directly with the chairman or president…no one else.
This board oversees the management personnel of the organization and helps them make decisions regarding the daily management of the organization. The board has the power to rethink or over throw any management decision. They would need to meet monthly or more as needed. In this case, the board member would speak to the manager of the area of concern and could have the right to overrule the local person.
This board is a working board with different members managing different areas of the organization. They meet at least monthly and often weekly. In this case the board member would speak to the person in charge of that area.
This board sets the policy and vision for the organization, but does not get involved in the management. They meet two or three times a year to make sure the organization is still on course. In this case, the board member would bring up the situation when strategy and policy effecting that area is discussed.
There are still other boards:
This board lends their names as Board Members for the Public Relations of the organization. They do not get involved in the management of the organization. They meet once a year, or so, for the annual report.
This board advises the management but does not have any authority to put decisions into practice. They are used to connect with other organizations. They meet individually with the management as requested.
This Board finds funding for the organization. They meet to set strategy and plan events to raise funds. They are not involved in setting priorities for spending the funds.
This board meets when there is a problem. Other than that the management runs the organization.
Board leadership and accountability starts at the board level, with the board. If that is done correctly, the organization can flourish.