For Any Head of School, This Relationship is Critical!
Boards meet at different intervals during the year – some monthly, some bi-monthly, some quarterly. As the Head of School, you may meet with key staff once per week. You must have ready access to the Board Chair, and vice versa. Where the most significant issues are concerned, your relationship with the Board Chair is the single most important difference maker. This relationship is foundational to best practices where governance is concerned, and is often found at the heart of chronic governance issues and challenges. The relationship between these two individuals must be one of trust, respect, collaboration, and transparency.
In Chapter 8 of my new book, Healthy Boards-Successful Schools, I unpack the top five most important responsibilities of the Board Chair. Here are only the first three. The full discussion of this topic is in my book that can be ordered on my website www.williamrmott.wpengine.com.
Encourage the Board to Work Together
It’s a given that the board should work together for the good of the school. But the reality is that boards can let a host of issues divide and distract from its central and proper role, along with its effectiveness. The Board Chair’s responsibility is to keep the entire board focused. Even when the inevitable disagreements arise, the Chair must bring everyone together and moving forward together. In the introduction to the book I discuss the importance of Unity – the board working together and staying attentive to the big picture – the strategic vision for the school.
Insist That Interactions and Relationships Be Not Only Civil but Also Positive
Today, more and more conversations happen over social media before a board meeting can occur. Sides are taken, gauntlets laid down, and perceptions become reality. When a board convenes and begins to tackle complex and controversial issues, the Board Chair must set the tone and the expectation of positive and civil discussions during the meeting and afterwards. It should not go without saying, that he or she must also be an example of these attributes.
Position the Head of School as a Leader Worthy of Respect and Trust
Anyone who knows me has heard me say “the board has one employee.” Much rests upon that single pillar. Here’s just one thing. The Head of School must run the school day in, and day out. They interact and relate with people and constituencies at every level – parents, students, staff, alumni, and community leaders. They simply cannot be undermined. In fact, just the opposite! The board, and most especially the Board Chair, need to proactively establish the Head of School as the school’s undisputed leader. Only when the Board Chair clearly understands the proper roles of the Head of School, the Board Chair, and the board, can the Chair make the necessary contribution to the healthy future growth of the school.
There’s more to this relationship and you owe it to yourself to invest in this relationship and work to make it a healthy one. It’s my greatest professional passion. My new book is not just a book to read. It’s been specially designed for quick reference and practicality. Order your copies of Healthy Boards – Successful Schools today!