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Healthy Boards
by Sandra Trice Gray

See the complete list of articles by Sandra Gray.

Is it time for your board of directors checkup?

In the same way that physicians recommend annual checkups to maintain healthy bodies, current literature suggests the same is required for the health of our institutional governing boards. What follows is a board checkup checklist. See how well your governing board fares by checking off those items that characterize your board.

Checkup Checklist

Our board of directors:

  • Uses association?s vision, mission, and values as a guide for its actions and decision making.
  • Reflects a size, structure, skills set, and variety of backgrounds and experiences needed to make effective decisions for the association.
  • Is organized so that it can address decisions in a timely manner.
  • Affords itself educational opportunities, including an orientation program for new board members.
  • Functions as a leadership team with the chief executive officer grounded in mutual trust, shared power, and healthy communication.
  • Establishes priorities and strategies for the association.
  • Addresses policy and strategy in a way that keeps the board focused on the broader issues of the association.
  • Evaluates its performance regularly as a body, using feedback to learn and improve.
  • Has clearly defined job descriptions for the board, committees, and individual members of each group.
  • Recognizes the importance of committees and staff members, and delegates authority as appropriate.
  • Evaluates and monitors the performance of the chief executive officer and provides support, professional development, and renewal opportunities.
  • Receives regular updates on association programs and activities, including lessons learned.
  • Maintains a culture of diversity and inclusiveness among all board members.
  • Ensures that a process is in place to minimize potential risks associated with investments, funding, and loss of key staff members (including a CEO succession plan).
  • Appoints an audit committee with direct access to the association?s auditors.
  • Attracts resources (financial, in-kind, and so forth) to ensure the success of the association.
  • Maintains ongoing communication with stakeholders.
  • Has a nominating committee, members of which serve as scouts to recruit members who are best able to help the organization achieve its desired outcomes.
  • Has a conflict resolution process in place that maintains the respect and dignity of members involved in dispute.

How healthy is your board, as rated by both board and staff members? Give yourself five points for each item you were able to check off.

100 points: Congratulations, your board is in outstanding health.

80-95 points: With a little attention, your board will be in top shape.

60-75 points: Start a wellness plan, paying close attention to those areas needing improvement.

0-55 points: Stop what you?re doing and consult a board physician-immediately.


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