Governance & Management _ Board Matters -...

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11/3/2016 Governance & Management | Board Matters http://www.governance.com.au/board­matters/fx­view­article.cfm?loadref=2&article_id=B0631FBD­4D25­4DF6­986EA43A02ECF80E 1/3 7 Characteristics of an Effective Board Vol.4 No. 6: April 2005 SEVEN CHARACTERISTICS OF AN EFFECTIVE BOARD There is no magic model for good governance. Boards, like organisations, have different characteristics and needs. Boards develop a mixture of practices that uniquely suit them. This article identifies seven characteristics of an effective board and provides practical suggestions on how a board can build up its effectiveness in any of these characteristics. Work out a prioritised list of some of these suggestions and systematically work through them at whatever pace is suitable for your board. AN EFFECTIVE BOARD IS MISSION CENTRED Effective nonprofit boards convey a single­minded purpose. Boards and staff know exactly what services they offer and to whom because they clearly understand the relationship between their mission and services provided. New funding opportunities that do not “fit” with their mission do not distract them. Yet they understand that the mission is not a static set of words that are enshrined in a picture frame on the wall but are open to sustaining the original vision or fashioning a new one as times demand. Practical applications: Use the Mission as ­ The basis of the strategic plan The source of values for evaluating the quality of service delivery The “Yard Stick” for evaluating the annual budget allocations The means of solving board members conflict The basis for creating alliances and collaborations with other organisations. AN EFFECTIVE BOARD APPROACHES BOARD WORK PROFESSIONALLY This means that the board reaches clarity and agreement on its role so that it can focus on helping the organisation envision a direction and shape a strategy for the future. If the focus is on shaping the strategy for the future then the board will resist micro­managing the organisation. While all the strategies of the business world may not be appropriate for the nonprofit sector, a professionally acting board will be comfortable with using business language, where appropriate, to describe certain aspects of the organisations. They can see the usefulness of some technologies from the business environment. They know that the bottom line in the use of these technologies is whether or not they have a good “fit” with the organisation’s values.
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