Teaching a board that its role is making policy, and not managing the organization, should be looked at as a long-term process. That’s why the executive director should look for ways to strategically guide the board in the right direction.

Use your regular communications to the board to guide trustees. Take your monthly report to the board as an example. How you structure it can teach the board to think like a board, not as a CEO.

Organize your report around these three areas:

  1. Action items. This should include information in such areas as committee work, draft policy documents, and your appraisal and contract.
  2. Information items. This section should include updates about your management decisions and summaries of the implications of state house decisions on your organization. You might also include your schedule in this type of information for the board.
  3. Program activities. Board members will be very interested in this section of the report, so fill it with client achievements and examples of staff work.

No CEO can explain the difference between policy and management one time at orientation and expect that to suffice. Use the tools you have at your disposal to reinforce proper roles.