Effective Board Governance

April 26, 2013
By Beth Brooks, CAE

I get a lot of phone calls from association professionals that deal with board issues. This is one area that will make or break an association professional.   

Ensuring that your structure is strong and well thought out, that everyone knows their job and role, and understanding how to work with your Board are all parts of effective governance. 

Some of the most perplexing questions I get are when the executive or Board doesn’t want to disclose something. They don’t want to put the financials on their website; they don’t see the need for an audit; or they don’t want to disclose minutes.

But there are lots of other examples of ineffective governance as well. Recently, I was talking with a TSAE member about board makeup. That association did not have any members who wanted to serve on the Board. They didn’t have a nomination process in place and there were no clear directions on what to do, what the qualifications where, and if the Chairman could appoint someone if there were no volunteers. When there is no agreed upon guidance or written procedures is when trouble can start. 

Believe me; it doesn’t have to be that way.   

Your association needs to have solid policies in place (conflict of interest, position descriptions and anti-trust, just to name a few).  The board should review these each year as a reminder.   These policies along with your bylaws serve as the backbone structure, and help everyone understand roles and procedures. If you haven’t looked at your bylaws lately, I suggest you do that. Compare your bylaws to what is actually being done in practice… if they don’t agree, then amend the bylaws or start following them.

Along with policies, comes the relationship between the CEO and the Board members.

Ensuring that your volunteer leader is confident and knowledgeable about what to do is your job. Just as you give orientation to your new board members, you need to invest in training your Chairman. 

And having your leadership hear it from someone rather than you can also be very helpful. TSAE is offering our CEO/Elected Leader program on Friday, June 21 in Austin.   Dr. Michael Gallery, CAE, will be talking about roles, policies, ethics, troubling scenarios and more - all information that you and your chairman can use.  This is a great opportunity to spend time planning together. In fact, some of our associations bring the Chairman and the Chair-Elect to ensure that everyone is on the same page. 

If you are interested in investing in your volunteer leadership and creating a strong partnership consider attending this one day program.

Learn more about our CEO + Volunteer Leader Forum

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