What is the Board of Directors?

One of the cornerstones of success for any organization is distinguishing between governance and operations. It's a concept that challenges boards of all kinds of organizations and it is a common source of confusion.

When there is a clear division of responsibilities between the board and management of the organization and that division is respected by all parties. The organization can focus all of its energy on achieving results for its members. Governance is about providing leadership and strategy focused on the big picture as a governing body board develop and implement the appropriate structures and processes to ensure that an organization is run effectively and has measures to ensure accountability.

This is different than management which involves organizing the work and operations which involves doing the work. This means boards don't get involved in managerial decisions or the day-to-day operations of the organization. The responsibility for the administration rests solely with the executive director mixing up these two roles will inevitably lead to conflict and a less effective organization.

The main role of the board of directors is to provide oversight and direction for the commissions in a publicly visible accountable and collective way. The board is responsible and held accountable by the member communities for the success or failure of the commissions. So, the board's primary objective is to ensure the commission’s success.

The Board of Directors has a number of responsibilities that are vital to the commission's success, the board establishes the commission's vision and multi-year strategic plan, it also creates oversight mechanisms to ensure that plan is put into action by the executive director.

All boards set the tone for an organization's corporate culture, boards can encourage a positive culture by promoting excellence and innovation in the organization's while respecting the roles and lines of responsibility of the board and staff.

The commission is working for its member communities as both a service delivery organization and a cooperative forum. So, it's essential that the board established solid and trusting relationships with those communities and maintain clear two-way communication with its stakeholders.

To achieve accountability and transparency, commissions must measure and report on their performance the board must have ways in place to measure the organization's progress in achieving its goals. Commissions are expected to grow and evolve, this means the boards are expected to thoughtfully lead their organizations through constant and significant change helping them to grow beyond.

The board manages its one employee the executive director this includes providing the executive director with direction and feedback and evaluating performance. It's also the board's responsibility to ensure their assistance for executive development compensation evaluation and succession planning.

The board needs to make sure it operates as effectively as possible while it cannot select its members it has a responsibility to ensure that the board and individual members have the information tools and processes in place to execute its strategic direction.

Every organization faces potential risks that would prevent the organization from meeting and strategic objectives. It's up to the board to identify risks and to have mechanisms that help minimize the likelihood and impact of those risks.


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