Whether they have years of board experience or whether it’s their first board director position, all board members benefit from governance training. Board directors have many important responsibilities. Their work is never done.
Organizations that train and educate their board directors make an important investment in their leadership and that has a direct bearing on the organization. Continual training in governance makes average and good boards great.
The right tools assist boards in bringing their knowledge and expertise into the boardroom.
Why Board Members Need Governance Training
Current and new board directors all bring valuable skills to the organization they lead. Both groups have much to learn from each other. No matter how long someone has been serving on the same or different boards, there are always new things to learn, new challenges to address, and new problems to solve.
Serving on a board is not all work, though. Board directors work very closely together. They share a special sense of friendship and camaraderie. Advanced training brings all board directors current on governance issues which keeps them all on the same page. Governance education promotes candor and straight-talking on tough issues without causing harmful discord on the board.
Boards have much to accomplish in the space of a board meeting. As a result, they have precious little time to get to know each other during board meetings. External activities, such as spending time at governance seminars, workshops, and conventions provide valuable opportunities for boards to connect and form stronger relationships outside the board. The connections they form will help them to think and act as one when they’re faced with challenging times.
Sitting Board Directors Play a Role in Mentoring the Incoming Board
Long-term, seasoned board directors have much to contribute to the rest of the board. Experienced board directors have learned much about governance from past boards where they’ve served, as well as their experience on the current board.
Veteran board members offer much value in mentoring newer board members and helping with succession planning. Every time there is changeover on a board, it becomes a new board that’s different from the old one. New boards will soon form their own dynamics. Building bonds and earning trust takes time and it’s important for boards to put in the time to make it happen.
Newer Board Directors Have Room to Grow in Governance
Newer board members may lack governance experience, but if they were recruited well, they’ll bring other valuable skills to the board. When new board members combine their existing knowledge with the basics of good governance, they have much to contribute to the board.
Inexperienced board directors are often motivated to join a board because it gives them experience and enhances their resume. Once they join a board, it quickly becomes apparent how much work it is, and how little they know about governance. By putting in the time to learn more about governance, less experienced board directors can participate more robustly and intelligently in board discussions and become better contributors to the board.
Board dynamics are an important part of a board’s work. Existing board directors are bound to notice newer board directors that put the time and effort in to learn more about governance. That’s a good first step toward gaining the respect and admiration of the other board directors. Getting governance education demonstrates that new board directors value the organization that invested in them. That goes very far with the rest of the board.
Good Governance Benefits Your Community
Your organization plays a vital role within your community and it deserves the best of skills, perspective, and leadership that the board has to offer. A responsible board quickly gains the respect of the business leaders and people living in the community. Continued governance training shows that the board values governance education and takes their duties seriously. That’s important because those are the people that will become volunteers and donors to help sustain your organization.
Moreover, as boards grow and learn together, it’s easier for them to put personal and political agendas aside and put the needs of the organization first.
Responsible Boards Are Current on Governance Issues
All board directors should be familiar with the term fiduciary duties. When a board director accepts a seat on a board, they automatically accept the duty of care, duty of obedience, and duty of loyalty. These duties are important because board directors also accept legal liability for the decisions they make. If a board decision is ever in question, courts will apply fiduciary duties as the standard against the board’s decisions and actions. Knowledge about governance issues helps boards to make informed, wise decisions collectively, and it demonstrates they acted on an informed basis.
Something board directors should always be cognizant of is that a crisis can happen within an organization at any time, even if things have gone smoothly for decades. A board that knows governance issues well is better equipped to handle anything that comes their way, no matter how difficult it is.
The business environment is continually changing. Regulations and compliance issues are evolving. Continuing education in governance ensures that boards know what their legal responsibilities are and have the knowledge base to fulfill them.
Something many boards fail to recognize is that their responsibilities are important not only for the current time but also for the future. Effective boards are forward-thinking. The idea of “future-proofing” the organization should be evident in strategic planning and fundraising efforts. It’s a good strategy to map the board’s current skills against the skills the board will need over the next three-to-five years. Gaps in needed skills are instrumental in helping with board recruitment efforts.
Overall, there are hundreds of good reasons for boards to invest in governance training and there are no good reasons for not doing it.
BoardEffect board software is a valuable tool to help boards get organized and document their efforts as they pursue board development.
Boards are expected to conduct annual self-evaluations which are essential for developing a strong board. BoardEffect software makes the process of self-evaluations easy and efficient. The portal offers many other governance tools and features to help boards stay at the top of their game.