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Improve Board Performance Through Role Clarity

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

For a board to work effectively, it must be clear about the role of the board collectively and the roles of the individuals who comprise the board. According to the 2017 BoardSource Leading with Intent study, many boards receive average grades on understanding their roles and responsibilities. 37% of CEOs and 25% of chairs give their boards a “C” grade or below in this area. Further, boards with higher grades of “A” or “B” perform much better across many areas of board work:

Survey Results: Clarity of Board Roles

These data demonstrate a correlation between a board’s understanding of its roles and responsibilities and board performance.

To strengthen your board performance through better role clarity, consider:

  • Accurate job descriptions for officers and other board members. Assure these are read and understood by each individual and understood within the context of other members’ job descriptions;
  • Ongoing board education about the organization’s bylaws, policies and procedures. These are required reading, plain and simple, and should provide good guidance on how the organization works in addition to providing good context for how individuals work;
  • Solid understanding of the governance and staffing org chart: Who reports to whom, who is accountable for what, etc.;
  • Ongoing board education about the organization’s products and services. Individuals should not limit themselves to a good understanding of their own accountabilities but need to understand others’ as well to have functional context for their own roles;
  • Understanding of the organization’s business model. Know how the organization makes its money, spends its money and to what desired ends.

The preceding is not an exhaustive list. But before you get into deeper conversations about your board’s performance, make sure you are considering some of these fundamentals. Many organizations find these items to be low-hanging fruit when it comes to boosting board performance.

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