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Exceptional Boards' Principles of Governance

by Ken Anderson | Jul 12, 2013
Good governance is more than a checklist designed to detect and prevent problems, though boards must exercise their fiduciary duties with care.

Good governance is more than a checklist designed to detect and prevent problems, though boards must exercise their fiduciary duties with care.  Good governance requires the board to balance its role as an oversight body with its role as a force supporting the organization.

Moving beyond the basics creates new opportunities. Exceptional boards add significant value to their organizations, making discernible differences in their advance of the mission and vision.  How does aboard rise to this level?

Research has indicated that exceptional boards possess twelve common traits and actions.  These principles define governance from a creative and collaborative process that supports chief executives, engages board members, and furthers the causes they all serve.

These twelve principles offer CEOs a description of an empowered board that is a strategic asset to be leveraged.  They provide board members with a vision of what is possible and a way to add lasting value to the credit unions they lead.

Here are the 12 Principles:

  1. CONSTRUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP – exceptional boards govern in constructive partnership with the CEO, recognizing that the effectiveness of the board and CEO are interdependent.
  2. MISSION DRIVEN – exceptional boards shape and uphold the mission, articulate a compelling vision, and ensure the relationship between their decisions and core values.
  3. STRATEGIC THINKING – exceptional boards allocate time to what matters most and continuously engage in strategic thinking to home the credit union’s direction.
  4. CULTURE OF INQUIRY – exceptional boards institutionalize a culture of inquiry, mutual respect and constructive debate that leads to sound and shared decision making.,
  5. INDEPENDENT-MINDEDNESS – exceptional boards are independent-minded.  When making decisions board members put the interests of the credit union above all else.
  6. CULTURE OF TRANSPARENCY – exceptional boards promote a culture of transparency by ensuring the members, employees, examiners, and interested members of the public have access to appropriate and accurate information regarding finance operations and results.
  7. COMPLIANCE WITH INTEGRITY – exceptional boards promote strong ethical values and disciplined compliance by establishing appropriate mechanisms for active oversight.
  8. SUSTAINING RESOURCES – exceptional boards link bold visions and ambitious plans to financial health, strategic planning, and resources.
  9. RESULTS-ORIENTED – exceptional boards are results-oriented.  They measure the credit union’s advancement towards mission and evaluate the performance of major programs and services.
  10. INTENTIONAL BOARD PRACTICES – exceptional boards intentionally structure themselves to fulfill essential governance duties and to support credit union priorities.
  11. CONTINUOUS LEARNING – exceptional boards embrace the qualities of a continuous learning organization, evaluating their own performance and assessing the value they add to the credit union.
  12. REVITALIZATION – exceptional boards energize themselves through planned turnover, thoughtful recruitment, and inclusiveness.

To learn more details of each of the twelve principles, contact OnBalance today. OnBalance, a service of Credit Union Resources, Inc., assists credit unions and their boards of directors with strategic planning facilitation, board governance and leadership development assistance.