Association Board of Directors Executive Resources Committee
Of the fundamental responsibilities of an association’s Board of Directors, there can be none more important than ensuring the competency and effectiveness of the organization’s CEO. And in meeting this responsibility, it is incumbent on the Board’s leadership to know and understand fully what the CEO’s job is, both in general and in regards to the particular executive needs of the association. In establishing among certain Board members an in-depth understanding of the association CEO position, the creation of an Executive Resources Committee (ERC) is a good first step.
Composed of the Chair, Past-Chair and In-coming Chair, the ERC would serve as a continuing authority for the Board on the CEO position and the association’s executive needs. Its principal resource in this would be the incumbent CEO, with periodic outside consultant support recommended. Key to its success would be the commitment by each successive In-coming Chair to learn the CEO position, i.e., what an association CEO does, the core responsibilities. So equipped, she/he could assume a shared and informed responsibility to the Board on the effectiveness of the CEO.
The ERC would not only be responsible for the annual performance review, it would also serve as a focal point for Board member concerns and/or inquiries about the CEO. In effect, the ERC becomes the specifically tasked and knowledgeable resource of the Board with whom it would be ‘alright’ to express a concern about the CEO or a direct report without seeming to speak out of turn. In effect, facilitating informed intra-Board discussion about the CEO in most cases could be expected to lessen the risk of idle speculation which is rarely to anyone’s benefit.
Also, the word ‘Resources’ of the ERC is meant specifically to encompass it serving as the Board’s point of focus on the ability of the CEO’s direct reports. While the association CEO must always hold hire/fire authority, there can be little doubt that the Board’s overall responsibility includes senior staff’s ability and performance and the ERC can here serve as a focal point for discussion and review by Board members without seeming to speak out of turn.
For the CEO, the ERC can be a vehicle for keeping the relationship with Board members from getting too personal, a circumstance that can carry risks for both CEO and Board effectiveness. Before all else, the CEO is in a reporting relationship with the Board. Though best approached and undertaken in the context of a partnership, effective and productive partnerships start with a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities which is the exact task and goal of the ERC.