Thursday, June 4, 2009

why you must change your chairs

a recent story highlights a charity that's has the same Chairperson for 35 years - (that's longer than I've been alive for!), and that following complaints into their management of the charity, there's an investigation being conducted by the Charity Commission about claims of inappropriate and mis-management and their subsequent removal from post.

It illustrates a key danger to the governance of our sector: entrenched board members.

Having a committed, keen and enthusiastic board is vital to the success of any organisation - and its increasingly difficult to find people who'll happily offer their time to do so.
However, having the same person in the same post for too long starts to bring inherent dangers - people can become complacent, stuck in their ways and as a result hostile to change, ("after all, we've always done it this/my way..."), even when those changes are needed because of changes to legislation or expectations and trends amongst our communities. Their being so long in post also deters new blood from coming forward to join the board, as it becomes seen to be a 'closed shop', having the same people in post for so long.

Just as we appraise and review our staff and volunteers performance and conduct, so we should with that of our boards - and if they're found wanting, we should be brave enough to say so and either support them to gain the necessary skills and knowledge, or else ask them to move on.

To put it another way, how well would notions of member participation and democracy be being manifest if a country had the same leader for over 3 decades?

1 comment:

  1. There's a compromise to be made, though. There is a popular memory containing useful knowledge and changing too many officers too quickly can kill an organisation. I don't want to do that again. How long is too long? Any easy indicators or rules of thumb that people can share?