The very question itself implies that some are questioning the return on investment of investing in your board of directors and governance. It might also imply that the board of directors only exists because the law requires it. What if the board of directors was seen as an important element of the entire organization; that they do play a legal compliance role, but that they also could be an important part of increasing the effectiveness of the organization?
You would not hesitate to invest in the development of other key leaders in the organization or the way in which those other key leaders interact and work together. Why not see the board of directors as important influencers in the future of the organization as well?
To do so, requires us to look beyond the last 40 years of thought about the roles of boards of directors and executives and the relationship between the two. International Policy Governance, based on the work of John Carver, which is commonly used by nonprofits and civic organizations, speaks only to the board of directors and limits its focus only on the development of policies; clearly being told to “stay out” of the work of the executive directors.
This has lead the board of directors to be treated only as a legal compliance element of the organization, not as an element that could be developed. The development would have to maintain the separation of roles, but allow the roles of the board of directors and the executive to be visible to each other and appropriately aligned. Now we could develop the board of directors and the executive team together in a way that they could understand their unique and aligned roles as together they influence the future and the present of the organizations work.
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