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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. Learn more about facilitating the adoption of best governance practices.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Check out our Governance Consulting or view Examples of Client Experiences.

Eric Douglas

Eric Douglas

Eric Douglas is the senior partner and founder of Leading Resources Inc., a consulting firm that focuses on developing high-performing organizations. For more than 20 years, Eric has successfully helped a wide array of government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and corporations achieve breakthroughs in performance. His new book The Leadership Equation helps leaders achieve strategic clarity, manage change effectively, and build a leadership culture.

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