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ENGAGING, INCLUSIVE AND FUN LEADERSHIP
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ADDING VALUE BY MEETING EFFECTIVELY
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RESOURCES FOR LIVE LEADERSHIP AND MANAGEMENT ISSUES

A New Charity Governance code Proposes Changes

New CodeNew and more detailed guidance included in the draft charity code has an enhanced focus on delivering organisational purpose and direction. Totally new is a separate principle that demonstrates a governance perspective on diversity. The consultation runs until Friday 3 February 2017. Those with an interest in charity governance are being asked to feed back their views on the code.

Proposed new features include recommendations that:

  • Boards will use the code as a tool for continuous improvement, rather than simply as an aide to meet minimum standards
  • Boards promote a culture of prudence with resources but also understand that being overcautious and risk averse is itself a risk.
  • Boards take account of wider voluntary sector in making sure that their charity operates responsibility and ethically
  • Boards regularly review the external environment and assess whether the charity is still relevant. The code recommends trustees consider partnership working, merger or dissolution if others are seen to be fulfilling similar purposes more effectively.

The code also proposes standards in a number of areas, including:

  • Increased expectation in relation to aspects of board composition, dynamics and behaviours with explicit good practice recommendations about board size, frequency of board performance reviews, and trustees’ terms of office.
  • A new emphasis on the chair’s role in promoting good governance
  • Emphasis on board diversity, supporting its leadership and decision-making with a recommendation that larger charities publish an annual statement of the steps they have taken to address the board’s diversity.
  • A presumption that charities should be open in their work, including a public register of trustees’ interests, unless there is good reason not to.
  • Recommendations that charities use their annual report to say how they apply the code and an explanation of any aspects which they do differently.

Rosie Chapman, chair of the code steering group, said:

“Everything the code does is about putting in place the processes and behaviours that mean charities will be better able to deliver their purposes. This version of the code starts from the principle that trustees understand their role and are interested in helping their organisations develop further”.

The draft code and consultation questions are available at www.governancecode.org

Culture of Conflict

innovative governance agenda improvements Conflict CulturePart 1

How much energy is lost squabbling or mired by tension? We may not be aware but conflict and evolving events can create their own culture. Disputes can become personal, dissent can be acted out in public and energy may be dissipated by situations spiralling out of control. In my work I have seen conflicts cripple an entire board, executive team and even separate volunteers. The bottom line? Conflict can be costly relationally and financially. Living constantly in conflict situations can unhealthy, whereas being in healthy relationships can be productive. This does not mean that relationships will always be smooth. What it does mean is that people who are secure in relationships can express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction knowing that they are in secure environments and things can be worked through.

Dealing with Tensions

Tension can emerge in a range of ways.   For instance there may be disagreements about strategy or about the board’s role in raising funds for the organisations.   Different factions can form with a range of people holding a variety of perspectives. Email trails and patterns of communication can be toxic and there may be great difficulty in moving forward as the situation becomes more deadlocked.

When tensions or difficulties show up, it is easy to do nothing in the hope that it will resolve itself. This is probably the worse thing to do as an eruption may occur at any point, particularly when you least expect it. The answer? Resolve things as early as possible. Learn how to engage in conflict and difficult situation with more ease and awareness. Skilfully separate out the issues. Recognise that what may occur as personal may not be. There may be systematic or structural difficulties that cause frustration or anger.   Remember the iceberg? The presenting problem is usually not the underlying cause. The symptoms usually mask something much deeper.

In Part II of Culture of Conflict we will explore practical steps and solutions that we can take when we are wadding through trickle.

In the Hot Seat: Tips about what makes a Great Chair

3CUOYQBC03In the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to work with wonderful Chairs. These Chairs are amazing leaders.  They have a secure sense of self and are very collaborative in their style.   They ask the board members and Chief Executive their views, they listen well and they are extremely good at letting people know what has been decided, the actions that need to be taken, by whom and by when.

Governing with Intent, Onboard’s recent  inquiry  into trustee board effectiveness,  board members  who said the Chair  was effective said s/he

(i)              creates a safe climate when issues can be openly discussed (board members rated this 74%.  Chief Executives rated this 72%)

(ii)            effectively manages board meetings

(iii)           plays a facilitative role in acknowledging the contributions of members of the board is a critical factor in strengthening the board. (board members rated this 74%.  Chief Execs rated this  72%)

(iv)           plays a strong role in boosting the confidence of board members and strengthening morale (board members rated this 65%.  Chief executives rated this 67%)

(v)             effectively handles disagreements, playing an important role in facilitating the resolution of tricky issues

(vi)           effectively utilises chairs action

(vii)          are good listeners and exercised wisdom in achieving balance.

(viii)        Candour exists between the board and the chief executive and this is enhanced by the role the Chair plays (37%  rating was given by board members and 87% was given by Chief Executives).

Chief Executives agree with these ingredients for effective chairing.  They add one more – “At the moment we have an excellent chair who is focused and brings no hidden agenda” (Chief Executive).

Finding a shared understanding in building the Chair and Chief Executive

A Golden Journey: Finding a Shared Understanding in Building the Chair & Chief Executive – 10 Questions to Ask

Chair and Chief Executive improvementsThe Chief Executive may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

1.  How satisfied are you that the Chair understands her responsibility for leading the board effectively?

2.  How satisfied are you that the Chair actively leads the evolution of the board in relation to its composition, competencies, relationships to meet current and future challenges.

3.  How satisfied are you that you have a good working relationship with board as a whole?

4.  As Chief Executive what can you do to work with the Chair to enhance the governance of the organisation?

5.  Does the board effectively liaise with you in your role as Chief Executive and with the Directors on matters relating to strategy, governance and executive performance?

Chair and Chief Executive  going-wellThe Chair may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

6.  Does the board undertake regular reviews of the Chief Executive’s performance and development?

7.  As Chair if you undertake the review of the Chief Executive’s performance,   do you report the outcome of the performance review to the board?   How supportive in the board in bringing out the best in the Chief executive?

8.  How satisfied are you that you ensure that the board adopts a relevant and appropriate agenda for consideration at Board meetings that engenders the engagement of the Chief Executive, the Executive Team and board members?

9.  How satisfied are you that you effectively manage discussion of agenda items allowing sufficient time for complex issues and for robust dialogue.   Do you encourage active participation and engagement in meetings by all board members?

10.  As facilitator, how satisfied are you that you ensure there is a shared sense of the decisions that have been made?  Do you clarify and confirm decisions made and actions to be taken at the end of discussions?

Assess and evaluate to see if answers to these questions take this crucial relationship forward.

Lost in Translation: Finding a Shared Understanding, Commitment and Passion for Excellence

This is a critical element for a Chair and Chief Executive

Ten questions you can ask as you put the spotlight on this crucial relationship.

In the absence of an effective Chair/Chief Executive partnership, the meeting of minds proves difficult if not impossible. Knowing that their partnership is a cornerstone of organisational success, many Chair/Chief Executives are actively engaged in seeking better ways to work together.

Speaking to an experienced Chief Executive throws light on this. She says ‘I cannot stress enough the importance of a good working relationship with the Chair. I would have found it difficult to lead the organisation without the constant support and encouragement of a series of dedicated individuals who worked with me in the Chair role. They shared my passion for the mission, gave me the benefit of their expertise, worked with me to improve the organisation and above all helped me to build a solid connection with the trustee board. I couldn’t have done my job – or I couldn’t have done it half as well – without them’.

She is indeed lucky and wise. Lucky to have had the experience of being supported by good Chairs. Wise to recognise and acknowledge the invaluable support a Chair can bring. In my experience the connection between the Chief Executive and Chair is an important part of what makes voluntary and community sector organisations strong, resilient and effective. When the board and the Chair challenge the Chief Executive constructively and in a supportive manner, it can force him to engage with governance in a way that enriches his work and makes him a more responsible executive. The dialogue becomes the point of contact between the how, the what and the why of the organisation. The effect of the work together is synergy, a combination that is far stronger than the component parts.

Monitoring and evaluating the governance practices and relationships can be resourceful as both partners with support of the board and the Senior Management Team (if there is one in play) begin or continue the process of building a Chief Executive/Chair /board relationship that really serves the organisation.

It may be helpful if the Chief Executive can reflect on the following questions

1. How satisfied are you that the Chair understands her responsibility for leading the board effectively?

2. How satisfied are you that the Chair actively leads the evolution of the board in relation to its composition, competencies, relationships to meet current and future challenges.

3. How satisfied are you that you have a good working relationship with board as a whole?

4. As Chief Executive what can you do to work with the Chair to enhance the governance of the organisation?

5. Does the board effectively liaise with you in your role as Chief Executive and with the Directors on matters relating to strategy, governance and executive performance?

The Chair may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

6. Does the board undertake regular reviews of the Chief Executive’s performance and development?

7. As Chair if you undertake the review of the Chief Executive’s performance, do you report the outcome of the performance review to the board? How supportive is the board in bringing out the best in the Chief Executive?

8. How satisfied are you that you ensure that the board adopts a relevant and appropriate agenda for consideration at Board meetings that engenders the engagement of the Chief Executive, the Executive Team and board members?

9. How satisfied are you that you effectively manage discussion of agenda items allowing sufficient time for complex issues and for robust dialogue. Do you encourage active participation and engagement in meetings by all board members?

10. Finally, as facilitator, how satisfied are you that you ensure there is a shared sense of the decisions that have been made? Do you clarify and confirm decisions made and actions to be taken at the end of discussions?

Building a strong and vibrant relationship between the Chair and the Chief Executive is a continuous journey and takes a high level of commitment and investment, but like any journey that is worth making, it is more than worth its value in gold.