What is Your Board Role? What is Your Board Responsibility?

board development and revitalization intentional practices roles and responsibilities strategic planning and policy development Jun 29, 2021
What is Your Role? What is Your Responsibility? Roles and Responsibility; Governance as Leadership


Let’s make an assumption -- you are a policy governance board, the most common (at least in stated intention) and the most effective (when implemented well).


What then is your board role? Your unique role? Beyond the obvious – policy and governance… and governance as leadership.


What are your unique responsibilities? Of course, there are many, many responsibilities for boards, but we identify these four areas as the essence of board leadership, exemplifying governance as leadership:


  1. setting strategic direction on behalf of your community;
  2. the partnership with your Chief Executive Officer;
  3. ensuring sustainable resources to achieve your mission;
  4. monitoring and auditing outcomes (the what, not the how) and finances.


Let’s expand on each briefly.


Setting Strategic Direction

Setting strategic direction means that you are establishing the organization’s identity through its mission, vision, values and priorities over the shorter and longer term. You do this on behalf of your community (which can be municipal, association, membership, campus, etc.).

You set the course. No one else can do this.

You are the eyes and ears for, and the window to, the community.


Creating the partnership with the CEO (by whatever name, Chief Executive Officer, Executive Director, Chief Librarian, etc.).

This partnership is creative, constructive, critical, and essential to your success, and of course to the success of your CEO. You are community volunteers, whether elected or appointed, and your CEO is your paid employee, your bridge to the staff and the implementation of your plans and policy directives.

Neither of you can be successful without the other.


Ensuring sustainable and sustaining resources

Ensuring sustainable and sustaining resources is essential to the achievement of your mission, your “raison d’etre”. We too often forget that we are at the table to achieve our mission. You do this through planned and deliberate advocacy and influence as well as fund development, friend/fundraising, fees and charges and so on.


Monitoring and auditing outcomes(the what, not the how, the CEO’s job) and finances.

You set policy on outcomes and report impact to your community. Have you agreed on your key success factors?

Are you financially literate and sufficiently curious, such that you can ask questions of your auditors?


These are four areas unique to governance as leadership. If you are not addressing these areas, who is? 


Does your Board committee structure, agendas, and work plans reflect these core and unique responsibilities?




What are your main “pain points” dealing with your role and responsibilities? What advice would be most helpful to you? And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.



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We are currently addressing these 10 Critical Questions Boards Need to Ask Themselves:

1 Why are you here?

2 Who is your employee?

3 What is your role?

4 Why are you meeting?

5 How do you ensure sustainable resources?

6 What are your KSFs?

7 How do you manage risk?

8 How do you ensure transparency?

9 How do you foster a culture of inquiry and assessment?

10 How do you continue to improve?

See our other blog posts for more insights.



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