So what does the board do, anyway?

When people find out that I’m a director for Servus, the question I get more than any other is:

So what does a board do, anyway?

If you look at the policies that we as a board live by, the very first one defines our role as:
The purpose of the Board of Directors is to govern, lead and nurture Servus to create and maintain value for our stakeholders and to serve the needs of the members and the communities therein.

There’s a lot in there, so let’s break it down.

To govern: one definition of governing is to exercise a directing or restraining influence over a company or to guide it. For us, this is a good definition because primarily we see our role as directing what the organization should accomplish and restraining how they accomplish that to stay aligned to the values.

To lead: we align the activities of the organization to a set of values. These are values that the whole organization had a hand in developing and are closely tied to the 7 cooperative principals. But values are a hard thing to mandate or teach, so it is the part of our job to lead by example. It is part of our job to embody those values and ensure that everything we do exemplifies those values. We set the tone at the top that permeates through the whole organization.

To nurture: fundamentally we are only stewards of this organization and it is our role, while on the board, to ensure that this organization will still be strong for the next generation of members and beyond. And this is a key point, the board acts on behalf of the members and it is our job to ensure that the organization is sustainable now and in the future.

Our stakeholders are our staff, our members, our partners and our communities. We are invested in all of them and strive to ensure that we are providing fair value to each of them. But we also need to ensure that that is true for stakeholders of today and tomorrow. Likewise, we need to ensure that we are delivering the products and services that our members’ need, today and tomorrow.

So what does the board do? We direct and restrain what Servus provides to members on your behalf, that it does so in a way that aligns to our values, and in such a way that it provides value to all of our stakeholders, now and in the future.

'Till next time, up up and away!

This article is part of a series. You can read the whole series at http://twentyfivetwenty.ca.