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In the Board Room: Staying In the Loop And Out Of the Weeds

The value of board directors understanding their roles

Recently, a nonprofit CEO requested that I help him keep his incoming board chair “in the loop but out of the weeds.”

A catchy slogan, but what does that really mean?
Those who have been through board leadership changes know the delicate balance between providing access and information and keeping board and staff in their appropriate roles. To be effective, a board chair must have a high level of engagement, but interference in daily management creates challenges. So how does one keep a new chair in the loop but out of the weeds? Is it even possible? I think, with effort, it is.

Understanding the role
I broke down that task into two components. The first step was to reinforce the notion that the CEO works for the board as a whole and not the chair – or any director – as an individual. Management is the authority of one supervising many while governance is the “art” of many supervising one.

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