Who’s who on a board
It is very easy to download from the internet, or ask your solicitor, for a list of roles and responsibilities. What does the honorary treasurer do? Should you have a senior independent director? What about the chair and chief executive officer? Does a company secretary serve the board or the organisation? This is all very interesting. But in my observation of boards, both as an adviser and as a member, I have identified a number of different roles, and these all pose different questions:
The Peacemaker asks – can’t we find a common way? Surely there is a different approach?
The Challenger says – can’t we do better? This is simply not good enough for the homeless people in this town. Is it just because it has always been done this way?
But the History Holder says, do remember where we come from. When we started we thought that we could really change opinions about obesity. We need to go back to our roots, and remember what worked in the past.
And the Compliance king or queen will always say, can we afford it? What will the auditors say? Is this legal?
To which the Passionate Advocate will respond, for goodness sake, surely we must take a risk. People are dying of this disease, we must do more.
And the Data Champion says – it is all very well shouting, all the evidence shows that however often we do that, it makes no difference to the outcomes for mentally ill people.
And the Wise Counsellor says, we are not the only people trying to tackle this issue, we need to think carefully, plan properly, and take this step by step.
But the Inspiring Leader will describe her vision, will point to the hills, will enthuse and excite.
While the Fixer says, I think we can get together outside the meeting and sort this out.
And the Risk Taker says, the crisis in Darfur is simply too great. Let’s just spend the money, and it is such a good idea that the funds will flood in.
While the Strategist says, we need to think about what will happen in 2010, and recognise that if the Department of CPT does make the changes that they are planning, then our position will be much stronger and the whole environment will be different.
And the User Champion says, I am worried that we are ignoring the interests of our beneficiaries. We haven’t mentioned their needs all though this meeting.
All those voices, and all those questions, make a really strong board. All good boards hold in balance the entrepreneurialism of the strategist, and the risk taker, along with compliance king or queen, and the data champion. I have seen boards that are entirely entrepreneurial and they are pretty scary. I have also seen boards that are entirely compliance driven, and they are truly terrifying.