Expert Coaching. Practical Resources.

December 11, 2018


Paul Zilz

When Boards Make Big Changes and Govern with Purpose

Remember the last time you moved or renovated? My wife and I are making major renovations to our main floor in the house. Wow! What an endeavor! As well as you try to anticipate the various decisions that must be made, there are always 100 more that arise because of contingencies. Same with a move! Of course, thoughtful preparation for a major renovation or move is one of the keys to a successful transition and project completion. During the preparation process, the inevitable questions arise: Do we keep this item or not? Is it taking up space instead of serving a purpose?

The same questions occur whenever a board changes its perspective on its proper role and the way it leads. If a board decides to govern instead of manage the organization, if a board decides it should be connecting more with those on whose behalf it governs (owners for shorthand) rather than the staff, if a board decides to become strategically future- and results-focused instead of oriented toward the present and the past, then inevitably the questions arise: What part of our agenda is taking up space instead of purpose? What board processes and behaviors do we keep and which ones will not help us 1) govern effectively; 2) connect with our long-term “investors” for input on what benefits produced by the organization should be received by whom and at what cost or worth; and 3) become strategically focused on results and the desired future?

Of course, you have a choice! It’s usually easier in the short term to not change! You can continue to live in the same house, so to speak, even as the structure and furnishings deteriorate, or you can renovate your space for the long term.  More precisely, you can continue to see the board as management one-step-up, or you can see the board as ownership one-step-down; in the latter case, the board understands it is accountable to those on whose behalf it governs. You can continue to micro-manage or rubberstamp your management’s plans, or you can lead with purpose and govern strategically and pro-actively with a future and results-oriented focus. In the end, governing is a matter of prudently stewarding the organization’s finite resources to achieve real results for the people the organization serves in order to make a positive difference in people’s lives.

If you choose the path of seeking to provide effective strategic board leadership, contact us at The Governance Coach™. We can help you improve your board’s leadership effectiveness and help you learn what processes and behaviors to adopt toward that end and which ones are just getting in the way of governing with purpose. Renovate your board and improve your organization’s performance! Govern with purpose so that your organization makes a real difference in the lives of the people it serves!




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