Creating a successful and high-functioning association Board is one of the most challenging aspects of association governance, but it is also one of the most important. A great Board will create a clear vision for the association, strategise for a successful future, mentor the executive of the association, advocate in external circles, identify opportunities and clear the path of obstacles.
All Boards need to be compiled of various experts and professionals with a breadth of experience and a diverse range of approaches. This diversity will benefit your association by introducing new ideas and ways of doing things.
Boards that lack diversity in skills, experiences, backgrounds and knowledge areas risk becoming stale in the way they govern and plan for the future. The Board should reflect a range of stakeholders and should be at least as diverse as your association membership. Failing to compile a range of people with different perspectives can result in groupthink.
Without a mix of abilities and aptitudes, you will be left looking for important skill sets when it comes to approaching specific problems.
Additionally, it’s unwise to recruit Board members solely from the industry that your association is a part of. While industry experience and knowledge of your association’s area is an advantage for some Board members, it is not necessary for everyone on the Board to have an in depth understanding of the detail of the industry. The role of the Board is not operational or technical; rather, it is focused on long term vision and strategy. Therefore, people from a range of backgrounds who have the important ability to think outside the box are more valuable than a team of industry experts.
Many associations may understand the need to have a diversity of people on the Board, but are unsure what skill sets to target. When looking for Board members, it’s a good idea to ensure that your Board collectively meets all of the following criteria.
Finally, alongside the need to bring together a group of people with a diverse range of skills, an association should consider building a strong Board culture where everyone feels empowered to have their say and contribute. Having a broad range of people will assist to prevent any one person from monopolising conversations. A welcoming, respectful and honest working environment encourages open communication and collaboration.
over 30 years of management expertise, Executive Director and Founder of AES, Nick Koerbin is one of the most experienced NFP leaders in
Australia. He has held positions as the CEO of Materials Australia, the National Parts Code, as well as senior positions in the Institute
of Insurance, Australian Quality Council, the Financial Planning Association, the Australian Human Resources Institute, and the Furniture
Industry Association of Australia. Nick created AES with a vision of creating a set of management practices that could be consistently
followed to ensure success. Over his 30 years in the industry, he noticed that inconsistent management practices often impeded delivery of
services to members, which in turn created issues with membership renewal. By establishing AES and creating the NFP Association Best
Practice Self-Assessment, Nick has been able to assist leaders in becoming more confident and informed decision makers so that they can
create more effective strategies and implementation plans.
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