Governance Best Practices: The 5 Habits of High-Performing Boards


When a Board of Directors serves in a governing capacity (e.g. for a non-profit, a public agency, or a corporation), the Board needs to act in certain ways in order to assure high levels of performance throughout the organization. This tool lays out the five habits of high-performing governing boards.

Habit 1: Board members cultivate the Board as a distinct entity.

  • Board members recognize the Board as a distinct entity that governs the organization.
  • The Board is different from Board members.
  • The Board directs the organization via the chief executive.
  • Individual Board members do not direct staff, except when authorized to do so.
  • Board members may offer suggestions or ask for information from staff.

Habit 2: The Board focuses on results – and on monitoring results.

  • The Board’s job is to define the results that the organization is to achieve.
  • The Board expresses its goals through a written plan or policies.
  • The Board regularly monitors the goals, via measures of success.
  • The feedback loop established through the monitoring process creates strong levels of performance.

Habit 3: The Board ensures sufficient resources are on hand and that those resources are managed effectively.

  • The Board regularly reviews the finances of the organization.
  • The Board helps develop and approves the organization’s budget.
  • The Board raises money and other resources to support the organization.
  • The Board assures an audit is conducted of the organization’s finances.

Habit 4: The Board develops itself so that it can effectively serve the organization’s needs.

  • The Board regularly monitors its effectiveness and structure.
  • The Board regularly clarifies the roles of the Board, Board members, and staff.
  • The Board assures an orderly succession of Board leadership.
  • The Board recruits and approves new Board members and orients them to be effective as Board members.

Habit 5: The Board provides feedback and support to the chief executive.

  • The Board regularly evaluates the executive director on the basis of the organization’s success in achieving the goals.
  • The Board assures the chief executive receives the coaching, mentoring, and training support that he or she needs.
  • When a vacancy occurs, the Board selects a new chief executive based on his or her ability to achieve the Board’s goals.

LRI helps boards of directors, city councils, and other governing bodies develop clear governance systems that clarify their role – and that of management. These board governance systems help ensure the smooth coordination and integration of activities in public agencies, private and public corporations, and non-profits. Call 1-800-598-7662 or contact us online here.

LRI helps Boards and other governing bodies develop clarity about their role and that of management – and achieve higher levels of performance: https://leading-resources.com/consulting/governance/

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