Board and ED/CEO Relationships are Critical to Success in Times of Crisis

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

We often recommend that the relationship between Board and working staff be kept ethically separate.

But in times of crisis, especially when decisions are made quickly, the solid working relationship becomes all the more important.

This is especially true of the relationship between the Executive Director (ED)/CEO and the board.  I want to point out four (4) areas for your consideration.

  1. Board responsibility during a crisis. During times of crisis the Board has a fiduciary and personal liability to protect the mission and the health of the organization. When complex decisions are made quickly, it is imperative that the leadership team and Board are knowledgeable and have frequent shared information – operational decisions being important. The Board should be the best allies in the days ahead – if they are kept informed.
  2. Board engagement. When board members are truly engaged, they have a deeper commitment and are well informed. I heard a stressed, exhausted ED (because of all her challenges) report that the Board chair had informed her the Board wanted her to find a cheaper office space. He did not offer to help, suggest skills and competencies Board members might have to be able to help her. He was oblivious to the monumental changes she was handling. This leads me to the next point.
  3. Board and ED/CEO relationship. The basis forhigh performance governance during a crisis is the relationship between the ED/CEO, senior management and the Board. Building a trusting and transparent relationship requires time, intentionality, and vulnerability. Striving for this kind of an understanding not only makes withstanding the crisis easier, but also brings strength and stability to post-crisis planning and strategic thinking.
  4. Board and ED/CEO relationship. The basis forhigh performance governance during a crisis is the relationship between the ED/CEO, senior management and the Board. Building a trusting and transparent relationship requires time, intentionality, and vulnerability. Striving for this kind of an understanding not only makes withstanding the crisis easier, but also brings strength and stability to post-crisis planning and strategic thinking.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org