Thursday, June 5, 2014

Governance is governance; management is management

Over the last 36 years, I’ve experienced and witnessed board or association management staff actions that make my head spin:

  • a volunteer board treasurer coming to our office for orientation with the strongly held impression that his job meant writing association checks and managing association finances. (He had been on the board about seven years so I was flabbergasted at his thinking.)
  • a consulting client association board that required its checks to be co-signed by both the treasurer and the president. As the president was a highly traveling consultant, the checks “chased” her around the world and often created serious delays in paying office rent and staff salaries.
  • the committee of a major national association voted to recommend eliminating funding for other staff departments that were not under its “control.”
A few weeks ago, association management thought leader and AMC owner Michael LoBue shared an article titled Governance is Governance, a speech Kenneth Dayton delivered to the Independent Sector meeting in 1987.

When I saw the 1987 date, I thought whoa, this is almost 30 years ago.

But, as I read Dayton’s words, I realized Michael was correct: this is timeless information that is worth reading of all of today’s association management professionals.  

A couple of highlights:

  • Governance (trusteeship) is NOT management ... too often we confuse the two responsibilities and in the process hamper the mission of the institution.
  • A weak CEO can often protect his/her hide by delegating management’s responsibilities to the board.
  • I’ve been utterly amazed over the years to observed how boards always tend to fill management voids. The trick for management: leave no voids. The trick for boards: ensure that management has a plan to fill any voids.
  • An all-powerful CEO or a weak CEO is an institut6eion in trouble or surely is one headed for trouble.
  • I would start by developing clearly defined and agreed-to position descriptions for the CEO, the board and the board chairman. And, the boards should annual review their position descriptions.
He offers a lot of other good tips and ideas worth your review.

Governance is governance. Management is management. May you and your association board and association management be blessed to know the difference!

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