Governance tip 2 – Get your head(s) in the right place about governance

Governance has been a complex issue for charities ever since charities started to employ staff who had more appropriate skills than the trustees. However, the huge increase in both the size of charities and the expectations about the quality of work delivered, has made good governance fundamental for an organisation to maximise its impact.. Bad governance, perceived or real, risks ripping the voluntary heart out of organisations set up for no better reason than to do good.

If you don’t think governance is important, you probably shouldn’t be a Chair or CEO. If you think it is too boring to spend time on, you are not fulfilling your responsibility as a leader – and you are probably doomed to a vicious circle: poor governance = more time needs to be spent on governance = nothing gets finished = poor governance.

Governance should be front and centre of board meetings, it should be a standard part of a CEO/Chair conversation, and it should be understood by all staff (and trustees!). These three actions may help with this:

  1. Speak positively about the subject, rather than ever making it sound like a chore. As a leader, you set the tone.
  2. Add governance as standing item to the agenda of every board meeting, so that everyone who sees the agenda knows that you view it as important (and so trustees are required to consider the subject regularly)
  3. Publish a couple of short paragraphs on your website which explain how your governance works. Start with the relevant section in your accounts, adding a couple of examples about how you work in practice. Email the link to all staff.

Once everyone in the organisation knows that the leaders value good governance, the rule of the self-fulfilling prophecy can begin to work some magic.

This is one of a series of Practical governance tips for charity Chairs and Chief Executives.