Board Development Issue Number 3 on our Top 10
The Top 10 Board Development Issues
That Impact Your Organization
Board Evaluation is Key to Organizational Success
“True genius resides in the capacity for evaluation of uncertain, hazardous, and conflicting information.”
— Sir Winston Churchill
“The past is prologue.”
— From The Tempest by William Shakespeare
Evaluation is the key to understanding where you have been and where you are headed.
Does past performance determine or influence future activities? Maybe. The question might be, do you want to improve because you have not achieved to your capability? For the board of trustees of a school or nonprofit organization the issue is, can we be better by adhering to our roles and responsibilities and how do we make this happen? Part of that answer may be found in whether or not the board evaluates its own work with the objective being improvement of their performance – not the performance of the CEO! That is an altogether different issue.
The board has an almost stated responsibility to demonstrate their leadership by evaluating the CEO. Using specific agreed upon criteria, the board measures the CEO’s job execution and then communicates strengths as well as areas of concern. To maximize their own work, the board should look inward to determine their own strengths and areas of concern. Their objective should be to aspire to being a dynamic, thriving board always evolving to be the best possible.
There are three different ways in which to assess how well they adhere to these responsibilities. The first is whether or not they have adopted The Governance Promise as the way in which they demonstrate their partnership and support for the CEO. These six guiding principles define attitude, behavior, and their relationship with one another and the organization’s CEO. The Governance Promise may be found in my book, The Board Game and was number eight on this countdown (Blog Post, May 29).
The second assessment mechanism is adherence to The Covenant Agreement – a document signed by each board member stating that they will uphold very specific responsibilities and that they will respect both the work of the board and the organization. Such an agreement outlines these roles and responsibilities of both the board and CEO. A template for this document will be included in my new book scheduled for release in December 2013 or January 2014.
The third way in which the board can review their work is the evaluation instrument and questionnaire that is also included in my new book. This resource breaks down board performance and responsibilities into seven different categories with questions in each category designed to pinpoint areas where the board is fulfilling its responsibilities, areas where they are not, and areas that require additional work.
The seven categories include:
2) Selection and Composition
4) Orientation and Training
6) Individual Trustees (experienced and new)
7) CEO/Executive Director/Head of School
The elements found in these three different but connected board resources will help measure meaningful value and are, in every way, a key to realizing a bright future. To get somewhere as opposed to anywhere requires a strategy and a way to measure the results of that strategy. The board’s willingness to evaluate its own work demonstrates genuine leadership and is essential to realizing organizational potential.