In the last series of articles, we discussed taking your board from being just “responsible” to “exceptional”. What makes your board even better, is to transform it into a highly functioning board.

If you want to create a highly functioning board, you need to think about the type of leadership style it employs to oversee your organization. Too often, people assume that “managing” and “governing” are synonyms. While these two leadership styles work together, it is important to understand their essential differences.

This quote by Peter Drucker says it best: “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”  So, the question you need to ask is: do you want your board to manage or to lead?

Definitions: Management vs. Governance

Here is a quick overview illustrating how governance and management are both similar, yet different:

  • Management: Defined as “the practice of directing or supervising.” When someone is managing, it means they are exerting control, handling the details and overseeing the tasks that are completed. For example, a board typically delegates this management role to a chief executive, who is then responsible for the daily operations.  It is a passive approach.
  • Governance: Defined as “distribution of legitimate authority to influence and enact policies and decisions.” Governance is the process of defining who is in charge, who has power and who holds the responsibility for essential tasks.

To put it simply: governance is the oversight of the strategic direction and future planning. Management oversees the routine decisions, such as the administrative work required for the ongoing operations and carrying out the vision of the board leadership.

Finding the Right Balance for Your Board

Unfortunately, too many boards create serious problems when there isn’t a balance between management and governance. Every organization and board are unique, which is why individual factors need to be considered.

First, the board needs to understand the importance of good leadership. The next step is finding the right balance of leadership styles and building strong leadership that moves the organization in the right direction to carry out its mission most effectively.

Does your board balance its management and governance responsibilities? A strong board doesn’t get caught up in the micromanagement of required tasks. Instead, macro governance allows an independent approach that focuses on the bigger picture, instead of getting mired down in the small details and minutia of day-to-day operations.