It is the duty and responsibility of a board to determine the long term goals and objectives of the organisation, the preferred courses of action and the necessary resources to achieve them.
An effective board balances the complex tasks of goal setting, determining and assessing risk, communicating with stakeholders and evaluating performance (particularly of the CEO and the board itself). This requires a clear view of what the board is to do, who (skills and competencies) should be on the board, how the board carries out its main tasks, and finally what does the board do in the conduct of its business.
An ineffective board just provides an overviewing role of senior management and degenerates into a management review role for finance and sales. Such boards spend too much time asking routine questions and hearing non revealing responses from senior management.
A valuable board spends most of its time examining those things that could damage the organisation, undermine its strategy or open up major strategic opportunities. The board must fulfil its compliance obligations to ensure that the organisation is operated in a lawful manner and in such a way as to achieve its goals for its stakeholders.
It is important that the board determines what information it requires to carry out its function, what advice it needs and sets the tone of the relationship with the CEO and senior management. The board should not be captive of its CEO.
An expert company that provides services in this area is Oppeus another source of support for improved governance especially for the not-for-profit sector is Leadership Victoria who run professional development for board members.