After a year of cancellations and Zoom calls, many organizations are back in person with our boards. Now is the time for reflection and reinvigorating our organizations, and what better way to do this than going back to the basics and analyzing the board’s role in your organization?
- Recruitment: Maintaining knowledge of who is in your industry and who could best fulfill board positions will ensure that the board is always thoughtfully curated. When you are actively on the lookout for new members, you are also reaffirming what values are important in your organization. According to The Council of Nonprofits, every board member should be on the lookout for great new additions to the board.
- Identify risks: Board members are on the front lines of the organization and should therefore be quick to identify risks or threats to the organization. This involves being well-informed of the organization’s weaknesses and external threats. DiligentInsights recommends staying up to date on matters relating to the organization and making a habit of identifying incoming threats.
- Directing the organization: Harvard Business Review released an extensive article examining the importance of strategy, saying a board’s “most important function is to approve or send back for amendment management’s recommendations about the future direction of the [organization].” Unfortunately, as the article explains, this task does not often get enough attention. Two ways to do this are to set up a list of objectives to follow and to dictate a strategic philosophy that helps guide your mission as an organization.
- Establish a policy-based governance system and adhere to it: Every board needs a balance of structure and flexibility. The structure should come from a collection of policies that help guide the board through complex decision-making. A blog post from Iowa State University making these policies broad enough to allow for wiggle room in decision making, but not so much space that the structure fails.
- Anticipate crisis: 2020 proved that boards must be ready for anything that could threaten the organization. Being ready for crisis requires constantly keeping yourself up to date on the latest information relating to the organization, and continually identifying threats and weaknesses. As Diligent Insights explains, fingers point to the board of directors when things go wrong, so make sure you are in the right.
As a board member, you have a lot to keep track of. Revisiting the basics occasionally can help guide you to being your best self as a board member.