Sharpen Your Board Management Skills

Associations Now | January/February 2019 Issue | By: Allison Torres Burtka

Sharper Skills 

To manage a board of directors well, every CEO needs core skills that cover everything from setting strategy to facilitating conversation. They take practice to develop—and it may take some reflection to identify the ones that require sharpening.

Because association CEOs must simultaneously manage the board of directors and report to them, working effectively with the board can be tricky.

But it’s also a necessary part of their job. As board dynamics shift, new technology gets introduced, and other overarching forces affect how associations and boards operate, it’s up to CEOs to ensure that their board stays focused, decisions are made, work gets done, and the right conversations are taking place. Here are some of the roles that CEOs need to play—each involving core management skills—to make that happen.

Conversation Facilitator


While CEOs may be inclined to lead the conversation with the board, they should manage it instead.

“I think there is a very subtle difference there, and the outcomes are very dtifferent depending on the approach,” says Culture Marketing Council Executive Director Horacio Gavilan. This includes getting the conversation back on track when it’s been derailed, paying attention to tone, and making sure that the environment of the conversation stays positive.

CEOs should also be mindful of how board members are interacting—and aware of potential warning signs, such as one person dominating the conversation, says Sharon Anderson, principal and CEO of Anderson & Associates, LLC. In that case, the CEO should “find a way to make certain your introverted members have a vehicle to provide feedback as well.”

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