Understanding good governance and being able to achieve it are sometimes two different things. I’ve seen boards work effectively for a number of years and then face a change in leadership that impacts their effectiveness. Good practices go by the wayside and the board becomes dysfunctional. It can be difficult to sustain good board practices year after year.
When boards become less than effective, board development becomes a necessity rather than a luxury.
Although the responsibility for overseeing board development falls to the chief executive officer and board president/chair, individual board members can take responsibility for advocating for their own development.
What can you as a board member do to enhance board service? Nancy Axelrod has six suggestions for you in A Game Plan for Board Development. Here is a highlight of her suggestions:
1. Become an advocate for board development.
2. Encourage the board to prepare or review a written job description for the board as a whole and one describing what is expected of individual members.
3. Take a closer took at how well your association is orienting new board members.
4. Suggest to the chief staff executive and the chief elected officer ways to improve the governance information system
5. Encourage the board to conduct a self-assessment of its performance
6. Work with the chief elected officer and chief staff executive to figure out how the board can govern more and manage less.