Posted in Board of Directors, CEO

BACon Blog - Respect the BoardAssociation CEOs: Don’t refer to the board of directors for whom you work as “your board”. As in, “My board does this” or “My board does that.” Referring to the association board of directors, the highest governing authority at the association at which you are employed, as “your board” is disrespectful and smacks of disdain for the board of directors as a whole and the individual members of the board.

Association CEOs: Respect your board.


The board is not a tool that you manipulate to get approval for what you want. Board members are the member leaders of the association and their leadership and expertise should be utilized for the good of the association.

Keeping the board in the dark is not a sign of a confident CEO… it is a sign of a weak CEO. Getting issues approved by the board through a “rubber stamp” is not only dishonest and mendacious, it does not allow the board of directors to fulfill its fiduciary authority, an authority not granted by you as the CEO but through state law and the governing documents of the association.

Bashing the board of directors, or individual board members, in front of the association staff might be fun and cathartic, but it establishes a culture of contempt across the association.


How can you move your relationship with the board from one of disrespect to a relationship that is positive and collaborative? You can start by helping your board.

Help the board of directors as they address their key and unique responsibilities, including establishing goals for the association, monitoring results for the association, and monitoring the work of the CEO.

Help the board of directors recognize and honor your key and unique responsibilities, including leading the annual planning and budgeting cycle, coordinating board meeting agendas, managing association staff.

Help the board get better by putting in place a sustained board development process will not only improve the way they work as a group, but will help individual board members improve as a board member.


Respecting your board of directors will not only lead to a more effective association, it will make your day-to-day work as your association’s CEO more pleasant and more professionally fulfilling.

John Barnes is President of Barnes Association Consultants. Barnes Association Consultants helps association Boards and CEOs address the wide range of challenges and opportunities facing today’s association leaders. Barnes Association Consultants helps association leaders make their associations better.

John can be reached at or 703.321.6866. For more information about Barnes Association Consultants, go to