Tim Herron is the past President and Chairman of the Board with the Starlight Children’s Foundation. He is a Certified Governance expert working with not-for-profit organizations on governance strategy and execution. Tim is an Accomplished Executive with Boardroom Metrics.

“Effective governance by the board of a nonprofit organization is a rare and unnatural act. Only the most uncommon of nonprofit boards functions as it should by harnessing the collective efforts of accomplished individuals or executives to advance the institution’s mission and long-term welfare” (Chait, Ryan, Taylor, 2005. Governance as Leadership: Reframing the Work of Nonprofit Boards).

The “Governance as Leadership” concept reframes the way Boards work with a goal to raising Board success and awareness to a higher standard. By thinking about Board work under three components: Fiduciary, Strategic and Generative, Boards can address their roles and achieve better results in new ways.

These three concepts of Board thinking are diagramed below as a triangle, graphically illustrating the landscape of governance. Boards typically work within a single side or possibly two of the three sides. Ideally, a Board would be prepared to shift and to welcome a balanced approach as the situation necessitates.

It’s a great self-awareness for a Board to realize the variety of choices possible for their leadership and decision-making processes. This concept of thinking styles is in addition to the traditional Board functions, strengthening good practices already in place. Many Boards in Canada should be working towards updating their thinking with this fresh approach to Board work. Boards who are implementing these ideas are experiencing greater Board engagement and stronger governance. This framework challenges our traditional approaches to Board Governance.

In the coming next three blogs I will summarize each of the sides then show how a balanced approach can raise the success of your Board Governance to a fulfilling the mission and providing leadership in the Not-For-Profit sector.

Board Governance as Leadership

by Tim Herron