I’ve decided that I’m going to write about boards every time someone speaks to me about their troubles with contentious meetings; fear of risk; lack of respect; backroom decision-making; refusal to leave when one’s time is up – among the more frequent complaints I hear. This is not to say that all board troubles are exclusively the fault of the board. Good governance is about clearly defined roles, shared responsibility, common vision, and collaborative leadership, and many arts professionals have a lot to learn about how to make that work.
In fact, we all have a
lot to learn about how to make that work. No matter how long we’ve been in this business and how many boards we’ve worked with, there are always new situations, new personalities, and unexpected disagreements – making successful board management as much a life-long learning process as maintaining a loving personal relationship.
Where to start? Always with George Thorne and Nello McDaniel’s Leading Arts Boards . Take a look, if you haven’t done so, at my recent post on What managers need to know about how artists work, which is equally relevant to board relations.
And do take the good advice of Ken Burnett, the founder and managing trustee of SOFII who says that bad boards can stifle, frustrate and hold back a voluntary organisation, whereas a truly effective board can make a good organisation great. But, as he says, great boards don’t just happen on their own: they require clever understanding and careful planning – therefore his invaluable step-by-step guide to make your organisation’s board one of your most valuable assets.