Board Development: What Is It and Who Is Responsible For It?


Last night I attended a Town Hall meeting for a board I currently serve on. From those Town Halls, I find that I can always learn something from others and I value the platform whereby people can share their thoughts, ideas and dreams. And although I may offer some responses to questions in the group, it is not my teaching /discussion platform, so I am mindful to not use it in that way most of the time. Instead, I use my blog to share thoughts on board governance because it is an area that I have a passion for.

In last night’s discussion there was a suggestion that a board director should not take take on the responsibility of doing board development. Now granted I may have misunderstood what they were saying, and if I did, then that’s okay too, a good blog post still arose! But as I went to bed thinking about some of the discussion around that suggestion and then woke up thinking about it again, I new blogging about that as part of the Board Series was essential to me. It’s my way of sharing the journey and sharing what I’ve learned in my studies. The goal? Hopes that those searching for some answers can glean from the resources provided here.

In part it’s true, a board director should not take on the responsibility of board development, especially if it’s an area they are not competent in or have been asked by the board to do so. BUT, if a board director has growing competencies in board development, then absolutely utilize that person! It’s a unique strength they bring to the board. So what is board development, this article captures a few things:

“Board development is a cycle that includes:

  • Recruiting board members
  • Holding elections
  • Providing ongoing support and recognition
  • Providing board orientation and training
  • Succession planning”

The above is the board’s responsibility! Now whether they do all that work or appoint a director to work with a development team (the best practice and most productive sencario), it will always remain part of the board’s job to do board development.  And any individual board member who invests deeply in learning in an area usually does so because they are passionate about that subject matter. It is a joy for any leader to serve in their areas of passion. When you have directors on a board who have strengths in areas that are board areas of responsibility, create space for that, drawing from the well of expertise or experience. Create pathways of learning for the board. I love learning from others who have strengths in areas I don’t.

Also, and this cannot be stressed enough, Board Development is one of the primary responsibilities of the whole board. Additionally, a Board Development Team should be formed and be led by a competent board member. It cannot and should not be neglected. Anyone who has ever served on a board in any capacity has witnessed what happens when the board fails to pay attention to their development piece.

Boards need, as part of their regular rhythm, to stay focused on its development. It’s too easy to lose their Why for existance. It’s too easy to wait until last minute to do a search for competent board members. It’s too easy to not know how a board should behave. It’s too easy to not attend to board business when a board doesn’t understand their role. It’s too easy to neglect your guiding documents. It’s too easy to allow personal agendas to overtake the board when the board lacks clarity on why there are there.

Board Development must be prioritized by the board – always! If it is a governance board, it should show up on every. single.regular agenda.  And, every priority a board has must be managed through by someone. You need someone to give leadership to that particular area, so why not choose or recruite a the person who is passionate and qualified? When leaders show up in the room, they want to bring their absolute best to the team.

Board development, when done right, helps board thrive and become all they can be. A healthy board means a healthy organization.

For further reading on board development and what it is, see the articles linked below:


Happy learning everyone!

*Please note: I use director and board member interchangeably.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.