Leading on Boards

19 December 2018 By Richard Dent OAM, FAICD

There is no doubt that “accountability governance” is absolutely essential for successful boards - boards must know how the financials work; they must understand and monitor risk and compliance; they must set policies; and they must set vision, mission and strategy. Indeed, a board without those skills is like a restaurant without good hygiene or food handling practices: sooner or later something will go horribly wrong.

However, a board with good accountability governance but lacking good leadership governance is like a restaurant with great hygiene yet a lousy dining experience: the authorities won’t actually close it down, but few people will want to have anything to do with it, and its potential will go unfulfilled.

Leadership governance is often a missing factor on boards, and one that some board members don’t often think about.

Leading on Boards means exercising leadership, both around the board table and in progressing the organisation’s mission. This means holding board members to purpose, managing conflict and contested ideas, ensuring the board gets “on the strategic balcony” rather than stuck in the “operational weeds”.  And so much more.

Good governance is a critical factor in any NFP’s success. Australia is littered with the sad memories of community organisations that represented great ideas, a great cause, an enthusiastic team … and governance practice that destroyed the whole purpose.

Australia also benefits from the many organisations whose governance is excellent and who go from strength to strength. High performing boards need board members who lead. 

How do you take up your board role?

Richard Dent OAM, FAICD, Chief Executive at Leadership Victoria, has held Chair and board roles across a range of community service organisations over the past 20 years. Richard is a guest contributor to Leadership Victoria’s governance programs.