The day to day operations of a co-operative business are governed by its board of directors. These courageous folks are co-operative business shareholders willing to serve the business in a leadership role – sometimes in a volunteer capacity. Management is often the public face of a co-operative business, but the board is key to the business’ policies and procedure, which help ensure stability and success over time.
Serving on a board can be a tedious job and often does not receive a lot of recognition, but becoming a co-operative business leader can still be very rewarding, especially as you shape the organization and see it benefit your community.
Our previous blog on co-operative leadership outlines the nine characteristics co-operative business leaders share. Beyond those characteristics there are important skill sets that help support successful operations. Ensuring the right people with the right skill sets are on the board of directors improves how decisions are made and board meetings are conducted. Here are the 3 types of people you want around your board table.
Find the odd duck with a passion for policy and procedures
Not everyone is interested in the noinky bits involved with operating a co-operative business. However, ensuring a member of your board can lead the development of bylaws and navigate various legislation will help the organization operate effectively under the various regulations. Many boards elect these people as their president or secretary to ensure meetings follow the appropriate procedure and leadership is properly informed.
Pick financial gurus to make the numbers add up
One of the most important positions on a board of directors is the treasurer. This person is tasked with overseeing the day-to-day finances, presenting financial information to the board/members, and overseeing the audit or review of annual financial statements. This role is best filled by someone with an accounting or finance background, and who is comfortable handling necessary software and documents, as well as potentially working with an auditor at year-end. For larger co-operatives, the role of treasurer may be filled by an employee with expertise and experience in finance.
Choose technical experts to get the job done
While it is essential that all members of the board of directors have an interest in, and understanding of, the co-operative’s business, it’s important to have leaders well versed in the industry the business operates within. Directors with important connections and insight into an industry will ensure the co-operative business is well positioned to create relevant policies informed by experience.
Have questions? We’re here to help. Co-operatives First has the supports, resources and experience to help boards acquire the skills necessary to grow a thriving co-operative business. Contact us.