One of my early professional jobs involved making hospital visits. One week at a new hospital, I rode the elevator up to the second floor to visit a patient. After our meeting, I took the elevator to return to my car.
Common experience right? Except that as I exited the elevator, I realized I was seeing the exact same bulletin board across the hallway I’d seen moments before.
Even though I thought I’d gone somewhere, I’d taken two rides to nowhere.
Moving from an operations to a governance board can be like riding to nowhere. You gain agreement from your board to focus on strategy and governance issues. You think you’re getting somewhere. But later in the same meeting, the board circles back to giving unsolicited advice on running programs, hiring staff, and the like.
Governance boards establish policies, select the CEO, and provide high-level fiduciary oversight. “They do not run programs,” shares Vicki Pugh, Vice President for Development at Palm Beach Atlantic University, “reorganize the development office, micromanage events, suggest design concepts for brochures, and except for the CEO, make hiring decisions.”
How Do We Get Our Boards to the Governance Promised Land?
You can ride the elevator to the promised land. Push buttons to assign accountability, remind others of the destination, and evaluate progress. And, as with elevator rides, be brief.
Your challenge today: Pick one of the board boundary behaviors above. Apply it at your next board meeting. Let me know how it goes.