Successful Partnerships Lead to Outstanding Boards

Due to heightened expectations of parents and stakeholders for openness, transparency, and accountability, a healthy partnership between the administration and board members is essential. This success of this partnership depends upon a mutual appreciation and respect for one another’s roles which, in turn, lead to trust between board members and administration. Continually building trust between the administration and the board members results in a cohesive and satisfying working relationship.

Between the role of the administration and the role of the board members there should be a continual and essential interplay. Advisory boards, consultative boards, and boards of limited jurisdiction all focus primarily on developing good policies that provide direction for the administration. Through open, honest discussions at board meetings, the administration comes to understand the intended spirit of a given policy and is then able to provide effective leadership for the policy’s implementation. While it is the primary responsibility of the administrator to attend to the day-to-day management of the school, simultaneously it is extremely important for the administrator to keep board members well informed about the many daily issues that pertain to the board and its role.

Administrators must engage in closing any communication gap that may develop between themselves and their board members. Communication gaps tend to occur because the administrator is present each day at the school, experiencing and dealing with the day-to-day issues as they arise. By contrast, board members come together only for a brief time for board and committee meetings and do not have the opportunity for this same experience. It is, therefore, not unusual for information to get lost in the time lapse between board and committee meetings. The administrator should make conscious efforts to communicate with the board on a regular and frequent basis in order to keep members interested and engaged. Finding ways to keep lines of communication open and communication gaps closed is the responsibility of the administrator. How this is done, however, should be discussed with input from board members.

Another opportunity for developing trust and respect among board members is to keep board meetings interesting and invigorating. If the administrator’s report at the board meeting covers only things that have come to pass and for which information is readily available, the importance of the board can thereby be minimized. An exception might be asking the board for its opinions or recommendations about things that have already occurred but which may need to be evaluated or reconsidered can be a very effective way to increase loyalty and strengthen support for the role of the board.

Board meetings, though, should be primarily forward looking. Board meetings should be opportunities to engage board members in dialogue and debate about future needs. Always build in some time for board discussions on topics that are important and relevant. Board members feeling and knowing they are actively contributing to the mission of the program is essential to making your board an outstanding one.We have compiled this sample audit to help you get a better picture of the amount of collaboration that occurs with your board. Also, be on the lookout for our future Thumbnail on collaboration, which should be available this summer.

Successful Partnerships Lead to Outstanding Boards originally appeared on the NCEA Boards and Councils newsfeed.