To be clear right from the start, the relationship between the board of directors and the Executive Director in an organization is defined as a “leadership partnership.” Each partner has roles and responsibilities.
And when both parties work effectively and collaboratively in this leadership partnership, great and wonderful things happen in the organization. When roles and responsibilities aren’t clearly understood, or when one of the partners start doing the other partner’s job, it’s a recipe for disfunction and aggravation, which ultimately leads to ineffective leadership in all organizations.
Who is responsible?
First, the board is responsible for development of the “what.” Mission, vision and strategic outcomes are the key things the board needs to focus on. Stay out of the operations, it’s not your job.
Second, the Executive Director (ED) is responsible for the “how.” The ED should be focusing on staffing, systems and operational planning to facilitate this work. You shouldn’t be doing the work of the board, such as building board workplans, board development or running the board meetings.
An example of this leadership partnership is as follows. The Executive Director typically participates in and contributes to strategic planning process, but the board is ultimately responsible to develop the strategic plan and steward it to a successful outcome.
The board has an opportunity to review and discuss the annual operational plan, but the ED is responsible to build it and, once endorsed by the board, responsible to execute it.
For this leadership partnership to be effective and productive, it’s crucial for participants to know their role and focus their attention accordingly. Attempting to do the other partner’s job will lead to many and varied problems.
If you would like more information on the leadership partnership, please give me a call at 250.465.1245. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.