Good Reads You Might Have Missed: Work Better With Your Board

Don’t let your board relationship become a struggle or a limiting factor—finding ways to properly communicate and collaborate with them will help you in a big way.

The relationship leaders have with their board may be one of the most complex relationships they have.

If handled well, you’ll have an excellent team that can help excel your capabilities. If handled poorly, it can be an uphill climb at all times.

But no matter where you currently stand with your board, there’s still plenty of room to improve the situation. Check out these pieces from the Associations Now and ASAECenter.org archive to get an idea.

How CEOs Can Help Make Boards Strategic. This 2019 piece discusses the reason why board members might now be fully prepared for the gig, and what might be necessary on the leader’s end to encourage the shift. On the former issue, governance consultant Jean S. Frankel suggested it was an effect of fewer chapter or regional structures, leading to complications. “I wouldn’t say they’re ill-prepared,” she said. “But let’s just say they’re not universally prepared in a consistent way.”

The Right Way to Kick Off a CEO-Board Relationship. Setting the tone is clearly a good idea, but what are new leaders to do when they themselves haven’t had a chance to set the tone? Doug Eadie, governance consultant and author of The Board-Savvy CEO, says now’s the time to invest the time. “Coming up through the ranks, you tend not to learn what you need to work with the board, unless you’re very lucky,” he said. “One common mistake is to underestimate how much you have to learn, and not invest enough time early on to work with the board.”

Managing a Board Without Controlling It. If your organization has a new board chair, you might find yourself in a position where you’re having to manage the complicated picture of power assertion—made all the more complicated by the fact that many board members are not used to being in such strategic roles. Leaders should tread carefully. “People will talk about and pay attention to what you put in front of them,” said Jolene Knapp, CAE, who then worked with Ideas for Action, in the 2016 piece. “So my contention is that you need to be darned careful about what you put in front of them.”

The Six S’s of Collaborating With Your Board. Sharon H. Kneiss, the former president and CEO of the National Waste & Recycling Association, emphasized the way that collaboration can help to strengthen the way that your board works, with an emphasis on strategic planning, structure, and strong communication. The latter proved particularly important as her organization executed a complex plan. “We made detailed reports on our progress to the board at each quarterly meeting and conducted a formal review at the second year of the plan,” she said. “We also sent weekly summaries of accomplishments to all board members and committee members. These open lines of communication helped to express concerns and suggest adjustments to maintaining momentum and balance.”

‌5 Issues for Board and Organization Alignment. In this 2018 piece, Robbie Baxter, the founder of Peninsula Strategies, says that when priorities aren’t aligned, it can create problems for the organization at large. And that comes down to strategies for selecting the board, which is often seen as a status symbol. “Association leaders and staff must work together to develop criteria for board roles since both parties have an incentive to attract motivated volunteers,” Baxter wrote. “A good model to use is corporate boards, which define five-year goals, determine needs, and actively recruit and groom candidates based on those needs.”

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Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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