Key Points

  • ‘Soft skills’ around building a great governance team and culture, are also an important part of governance – and complement the more technical skills that often get greater focus in the training material.
  • Governance sets the tone and culture for the ‘how’ the organisation’s activities are done … and should model the behaviours and conduct expected across the organisation.

Many organisations find it hard to find time to set the ‘big picture’ that the organisation is working towards – i.e. the organisation’s future goals and initiatives – known as its ‘strategy’. Having a ‘strategy’ provides important context to guide the operations because if you don’t know where you’re going, it’s harder to make choices and decisions about how to get there.

Helping the organisation and leadership self-reflect on their own performance as a group, as well as the organisation’s performance is also an important part of leadership. Doing this helps ensure the governance is ‘fit for purpose’ to support the organisation’s operations and vision. It also helps the organisation to adjust, adapt to and prepare for changing circumstances and take some considered risks to try or explore new things because sometimes the status quo can be risky too. 

The board sets the tone for ethical and responsible decision-making and the expectations of behaviour or conduct for the people involved in the organisations, ensuring the expectations are clear, and understood and consequences for misconduct.  The focus on culture and behaviours not only models the behaviour, transparency and accountability of the committee – it helps the organisation manage its risks of unethical behaviour and misconduct as it is more likely that any potential issues are raised early.

Top Tip

Rather than strategic ‘big picture’ issues being considered once at year, consider dealing with a small number of strategic or topical issues at meetings throughout the year.

Consider setting aside some time, even 15 mins, 1-2 times a year to ask the committee to reflect on its performance as a team in delivering on the organisation’s goals. The insights can be helpful in identifying development goals or focus areas either as a group or individually.

Want more? ... check out these resources

Booklet – Australian Institute of Company Directors – 1-2 hours


Scroll through to pages 87-99 of the Australian Institute of Company Director’s Advanced Not-for-Profit Governance Principles #9 to look at information about the Board’s role in culture, conduct and compliance. This resource also includes questions and suggestions for how instances of potential noncompliance and misconduct can be handled. 

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