By now, you probably have a pretty good understanding of what a Board is
and does - and if you don’t, that’s ok! Because when it comes down to it, every
board or committee works a little differently. Some much more differently than
others. You might find that some of our advice in past articles hasn’t made sense
because your board doesn’t do things that way. Here’s a quick overview of all the
different ways a board can function so you can figure out how best to go about
A Governing board is one where the owner of the organisation does not sit as
a member. Instead, the board is staffed by people able to provide direction to the
owner in regards to the organisation’s best interests and future goals.
A Working board will simultaneously work as the board of directors and the
staff of the organisation. This typically only happens in small or new
organisations where the owners can’t afford employees. If this is you, try not to
neglect your governance! It can be easy to let these important things slide.
Advisory boards work in a purely advisory role. They are similar to
Governance boards in that they provide advice and direction to someone who is
running the organisation - in this case, they work with another board (usually a
Managing or Working board) in handling delicate situations or areas of the
Managing or Executive Board
This is the board who runs everything - they make decisions on the
organisations day-to-day operations together without having a CEO. In order to
do this effectively, they will typically function as a group of subcommittees were
each committee handles a different area of the organisation.
Another style of CEO-less board, the Cooperative board is one where all
members work and vote equally on all points of business. Most often found in
small-to-medium sized nonprofit organisations where all board members are
working towards a singular goal.
Policy or Carver Board
Similar to the Advisory board, the Policy board will work more in the
background, while a CEO, owner, or other high-level staff member puts the
board’s work into practice. In this case, a Policy board works on forming
organisational policies, practices, and directions which guide the staff or
volunteers in their work.
Boards working in the Cortex model will put particular emphasis on the value
of the organisation to the community. In most of their decision making they will
include ways to give back to the community, and include this as a metric for
evaluating how well they’re doing as an organisation.
Figuring Out Your Style
Here’s the secret: you don’t have to conform to any single one of these!
Experiment, analyse your workflows, figure out your own style that works best for
you. You always have time to find your feet, and mixing and matching your
governing style until you find the perfect fit will only lead to a more productive
team in the long run. Give it a go!