BACon Blog - The Association Board Governs – That’s ItThe role of the board of directors at an association is to govern the association. So why do so many associations insist on time demands that pull their board leaders away from governing the association?

The governance of the association is the unique role for the association’s board of directors… the board is the only entity at the association that governs the association. This includes setting the direction of the organization (strategic planning), ensuring that the association has the necessary resources to accomplish its work, providing oversight (monitoring results, hiring CEO and holding them accountable, etc.), and committing to an ongoing board assessment and development process.

Any extra work beyond the key role of governance should be questioned, reviewed and potentially eliminated.

Is this extra work absolutely necessary? Is the board of directors the only group that can carry out this work or are there other individuals (CEO, staff, other volunteers) or entities (committees, task forces) that can do the work?

Does this extra work pull the board away from its unique role in governance? Is the work diverting board member’s attention away from strategic planning, providing appropriate oversight, and other critical duties?

And does this extra work dissuade potential board members from volunteering to serve on the board? Is the board work so burdensome that your association’s potential leaders decide to dedicate their talents, time and energy in other ways besides serving on your board?

So, push back when extra work is being layered on top of your association’s board. Keep the board focused on its most important work… governing the association.

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