Whose Interests does your Board Represent?

Carolyn Lugbill

Do your board members represent the constituency that sent them or the association as an enterprise? The answer is probably yes and both.

Greater trust and transparency occurs when board members understand the difference between being a “representative for” and being a “representative of” the board.

Representative For

Board members who are “representative for” see themselves as the elected representatives of a particular constituency, (i.e., local or geographic chapter, section, division, special interest group, committee, etc.). In this role, board members express primarily the self-interests and opinions of that constituency and vote principally on behalf of that constituency’s interests.

Representative Of

Board members who are “representative of” view their role as the elected representatives of the views, beliefs, values, and self-interests of all the constituencies of the organization. In this role, Board members voice interests and opinions of those they know best, and vote on behalf of the overall best interests of the organization.

It is important to be aware of these two perspectives, and to work towards governance that is apolitical, inclusive, balanced, and allows all constituencies to be heard. Board members will respect governance that they perceive to be credible and legitimate.

Do you and your board members have clarity on the difference between “representative of” and “representative for?”

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About the Author

Carolyn Lugbill

Carolyn Lugbill, CAE, MAM is a Senior Consultant with Tecker International. She has more than 25 years of association experience. Carolyn provides strategic planning, global growth strategies, program assessment, and board development for our clients. Contact Carolyn: [email protected]