Once the Governance Board has identified, defined and agreed about their individual roles and responsibilities, is there a need to move beyond structures and processes and define the type of behaviour that is expected of your board?

Many organisations will still recruit primarily for skills and experience, so where do ‘attitude and values’ sit within that equation? And, how important is it for the individual board members to be accountable for aligning with the organisation’s values? Here we will define what we consider are the three primary roles of a board being defining focus and making policy; making decisions about vision, mission and values and strategies; as well as making sure things stay on track. So, how does an organisation align what it considers organisational values with the way in which they are implemented?

It is critical that the board identifies with clarity what values the organisation has. You could call it ethics, but it goes beyond that and strikes at the very core of what that organisation stands for:

  • These should be the five to ten commandments upon which your vision for the future is built
  • It will be the basis for selection, performance evaluation and retention
  • It is about how you conduct yourselves as an organisation and what defines your culture

Then for each of the values that the organisation defines, define the action or behaviour that fulfills the core purpose, values and beliefs. For example:

  • a core value is: Integrity – which involves being honest, responsible, accountable
  • an action would be: the board member has no criminal record, and at all times is above board, delivering on his/her responsibilities

It sounds easy, however, this can be incredibly difficult to define and as these are your ‘forever’ things, can really make a difference from the top down. It is also important that the entire organisation is aware of each value and action, so that the culture is understood and ensures that all ‘fit’ with the organisational values.