Typically, training programs for members of tribal councils and Boards of Directors of non-profit organizations, focus primarily on the “legal and fiduciary” roles and responsibilities of individual Board members. However, we believe that Board members need to be trained in two additional areas before they can successfully fulfill their roles and responsibilities. They need to learn how to be effective “managers” of the organization’s system of internal and external relationships, and they need to acquire competency in interpersonal “transactional” skills and processes.
IDRS Board Skills Training focuses on three primary areas of concern:
- What are the legal and fiduciary roles, rights and responsibilities of a Board member? This section looks at how the law and the courts look at your organization as a legal entity. Specifically, what are your roles, rights and responsibilities, as the “governors” or “stewards” of this organization, for the direction and conduct of the organization as a whole? We look at the following principles:
- Making informed judgments
- Access to management
- Reliance on information
- Proper duty of “due care”
- Duty of complete, undivided loyalty to organization
- Public purpose v. private interests
- Exercising duty of obedience to governing documents and the law
- Increasing the effectiveness of the Board as a “manager” of a system of relationships. Your organization consists of a complex system of relationships that includes the other Directors on the Tribal Council or Board, the general members of the organization, the Chief Executive (Executive Director or tribal administrator,) the Executive staff, other staff members, your clients, funding sources and other entities within your external environment? The health and productivity of your organization will depend on how well these parts work together. What is the intended “division of responsibility” among the many parts, what responsibilities are shared, and what is your relationship to each of the parts? Are there ways you could increase your understanding and effectiveness “managing” these relationships?
Your organization’s By-Laws, Ordinances, Resolutions and Policies are used as the primary frame of reference. The IDRS trainer will explore with you:
- Where does final authority in the organization come from?
- What is the agreed upon chain of command?
- What authority has been delegated to the Tribal Council or Board of Directors?
- What are Board Members’ responsibilities regarding different Board functions, and how can their effectiveness be improved? Functions include:
- Vision creator
- Policy maker
- Strategic planner
- Overseer and monitor
- Internal conflict resolver
- Fund raiser
- Foreign ambassador
- Generator of strategic alliances with outside entities
- Complier with internal and external laws, policies, regulations
- What authority has been delegated to the Tribal Council’s or Board’s standing committees (e.g. Finance, Personnel, Enrollment, Lands Assignment Committees), and ad hoc committees?
- What is the division of responsibility between the Tribal Council/Board, the Chairperson of the Board, and the Chief Executive (CEO, Executive Director, or Tribal Administrator)?
- Does the Council or Board have subsidiary organizations over which it exercises some authority, (e.g. Tribal Economic Development Corporation, Gaming Enterprise). If so, in what ways does it exercise this authority?
- Are there other organizational entities that operate in the community that are parallel to your organization, and over which you do not have direct authority (Community Health Clinic, Tribal Housing Authority)?
- Can the relationships at all these levels be better maintained and improved? If so, how?
- What policies are there in place that are concerned with:
- Tribal members working for the tribal administration,
- Staff members by-passing their supervisors and appealing directly for support to individual members of the governing Board or the Board as a whole
- Confidentiality within the tribal administration
- Family members supervising other family members
- Has the organization established a set of Ethical Standards Of Conduct to guide the behavior of individual Board Members both inside and outside the community? If not, what should be included?
- How do you enroll, support and nourish volunteers?
- Interpersonal “transactional skills and knowledge” that should be developed, what skills should you be competent in to perform at your best and make the greatest contribution to the organization? This includes perspectives and processes that are typically found to improve communication, information sharing, and informed collaborative decision-making. Specific skills will include how to:
- Get along with one another in spite of your differences;
- Plan, participate in and run productive meetings;
- Establish “ground rules” (not necessarily Robert’s or Roberta’s Rules of Order) that promise to make people feel respected and safe;
- Collectively build an agenda;
- Approach the analysis of problems with an open mind;
- Become effective in communicating cross-culturally (e.g. family/clan, ethnic, gender, generational, urban/rural, organizational roles, etc.)
- Listen to one another “proactively” (summarize, rephrase, reframe, ask open ended questions, validate, verify);
- Identify your own and other’s underlying interests;
- Generate options that will work for and appeal to all sides;
- Initiate and respond to proposals in ways that “build” agreements
- Disagree without being disagreeable;
- Be accommodating without selling out your vital interests;
- Build trust and be trustworthy;
- Reach verbal and written agreements that are behaviorally specific (what, when, where, how, and how much), and enforceable;
- Overcome resistance to one’s proposals; and
- Get the recommended agreements ratified by one’s constituencies.
How Do You Arrange For IDRS To Conduct Training Workshops In Your Community and Organization?
Call IDRS Offices and speak to one of the trainers.
1. The trainer will ask you to describe your training needs, the number of people you want to participate in the training, the number of days and sessions you are interested in, when and where you would like to schedule the training.
2. The trainer will discuss a variety of options we have to tailor the training to your specific needs, what we can cover in the amount of time you want to spend, the availability of our trainers in the upcoming months, and a “ball-park” cost figure for trainers’ fees and travel costs.
3. The trainer will follow up on the telephone conversation with a letter outlining the parameters of the training as we understand them, specific dates available, along with a proposed budget.
4. Once you have decided to enlist IDRS to conduct the Board Skills Training Workshop(s), the Executive Director will send a proposed contract for services requesting your signature and a retainer of 25% of the total budget amount.