Many organizations and companies face the on going dilemma of having board members who are not familiar with their roles and responsibilities. I often get the impression that some people feel that sitting on a board is a warm and fuzzy thing to do with no consequences to their actions. This could not be further from the truth. Boards have the responsibility of ensuring that the company or organization is healthy and effective and is keeping up with current market or social demands. Many Executive Directors or CEO’s often struggle with lack of direction of an indecisive board and are left on their own to run and lead the organization or company. This is both dangerous and irresponsible on the part of the board. One never wants to see a board abrogating their duties and leaving their key staff member hanging out to dry is left wondering what is going on within the company or organization.
Some things that boards can do to help this along are:
- Have an active succession plan for both the board and the key staff member.
- Provide training for the board on a regular basis.
- Ensure that the board has a current strategic plan in place.
- Review your business plan on a regular basis.
- Do you have life insurance for your key staff member? Why? If this person suddenly leaves us, it will cost money to replace him or her on a temporary or permanent basis. It sounds crass but many business partners have life insurance on each other for this very purpose.
- The Board Chair/President and CEO/Executive Director should meet frequently so that an open line of communication exists between the Board and the key staff member. Remember that communication issues are usually at the root of most problems.
A healthy company or organization is usually reflected by how the board operates.