Last week, we began looking at the three “hats” board members wear and the roles they play when wearing each of them. We began with the “participant hat;” in case you missed it, you can find it at https://non-profitconsultant.com/the-participant-board-hat/.
To understand what a board is doing when it is wearing its governance hat, it may help to understand what governance means. The word governance is a Greek word that means “to steer” or direct from a position of authority. So, if we dig deeper into this definition, we can understand that one of the functions of the board is to guide or steer the organization.
Within the governance role, the board has three primary responsibilities:
- Set organizational direction – this is done by setting the mission of the organization and ensuring that there is no mission drift and engaging in strategic planning.
- Ensure adequate resources – the board needs to ensure that adequate resources exist in all areas: human resources, financial resources and a positive public image.
- Provide oversight – the board provides oversight by reviewing program accomplishments, risks the organization is facing and the organization’s financial picture.
While wearing the governance hat, board members have specific roles. These roles include actively participating, being informed, promoting the organization and safeguarding the ethics and values of the organization.
It is important to understand, and often misunderstood, that the governance hat is only worn while in the board room. In other words, board members have no authority over the organization on a day to day basis. Neither do they have any authority as individuals; instead, the board only has authority when it acts as a unit.
The governance role is an important role for board members. Unfortunately, many board members are not clear about this role. Does your organization need help? Contact us, we would be happy to provide an individualized training for your board.