What are the main weaknesses, omissions, mistakes, flaws, bad judgments, and sins that a director can commit? Here are several ways that a governing board can lose its way, along with some basic principles by which to operate.

  1. Veering off the mission. If the mission is not a central theme at every board meeting, it can be easy for a board to lose focus of the organization’s true purpose.
  2. Complacency. Some symptoms of complacency might include board members who put off their assignments, disregard the core responsibilities that come with being a board member, fail to ask questions, or miss meetings.
  3. Misguided motivations. Misguided and unethical motivations, undeclared conflicts of interest, and the pursuit of personal benefit can endanger the organization’s tax-exempt status.
  4. Multiple voices. Differing opinions need to be resolved in the boardroom, not declared outside to constituents, the media, or customers.
  5. Micromanaging. A board’s role is to oversee that the organization is well run; not to interfere in the domain of the chief executive.
  6. Limitless terms. New perspectives and different ideas keep a board and organization moving forward. Term limits can help boards avoid stagnation.
  7. Lawless governance. If a board fails to adopt appropriate policies or to effectively oversee financial regulations, it may become liable for wrongdoings.
  8. No self-assessment. By studying its own behavior, sharing impressions, and analyzing the results, a board is able to lay the groundwork for self-improvement.
  9. Lack of self-improvement. Boards that do not provide learning possibilities for their members miss opportunities and inefficiently utilize their members’ abilities.
  10. Knotted purse strings. If the board is not supporting the organization whole-heartedly, how can it convince others to do so?

From the Boardsource Knowledge Center