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The Official Baldrige Blog

Board of Director Responsibilities

An empty board room and chairs showing the core values and concepts in the background with the Board of Director Responsibilities highlighted.
Credit: faitotoro/Shutterstock, vasabii/Shutterstock

The Baldrige Excellence Framework is underpinned by a set of 11 core values and concepts. These core values have guided both the development and understanding of the Baldrige Criteria for many years. They have served as the basis for defining role model leadership attributes. These leadership attributes, with a focus on the roles that Boards of Directors play, are also applicable to their performance. The core values are listed below with examples of their meaning for Boards.

The values and examples are equally appropriate to public and privately held businesses, nonprofits, and public sector organizations. Depending on a board's current focus and challenges, different attributes may have greater relative importance at a given time.

Selects and Guides Visionary Leadership

Exemplified by:

  1. Holding the CEO (the designated senior leader) accountable for adherence to the organization’s values and mission
  2. Reviewing organizational vision, strategies, CEO performance, and systems for achieving ongoing organizational success
  3. Inspiring and motivating the organization to achieve high performance, with high employee engagement 
  4. Encouraging authenticity, allowing leaders to admit to missteps and encouraging them to report bad news

Ensures a Systems Perspective

Exemplified by:

  1. Holding the CEO accountable for setting a systems perspective across the organization, guiding and assessing the organization holistically
  2. Requiring a focus on strategic direction and customers to improve overall performance
  3. Ensuring utilization of the larger ecosystem (partners, suppliers, customers, communities) in which the organization operates to achieve efficiency and innovation

Holds Leaders Accountable for Customer-Focused Excellence

Exemplified by:

  1. Holding leaders accountable for a customer-focused culture in the organization, integrating customer engagement and loyalty as a strategic concept
  2. Requiring leadership attention to changing and emerging customer and market requirements
  3. Holding leaders accountable for the organization’s development of innovative offerings and customer relationships that serve as a differentiator from competitors

Values People

Exemplified by:

  1. Reviewing organizational culture to ensure a focus on meaningful work, engagement, empowerment, accountability, development, and well-being of workforce members 
  2. Holding leaders accountable for an organizational environment of safety
  3. Ensuring a culture of inclusivity that capitalizes on the diversity of the workforce and the Board 

Holds Leaders Accountable for Organizational Learning and Agility

Exemplified by:

  1. Reviewing organizational capacity for rapid change and for flexibility in operations
  2. Monitoring the organization’s ability to manage risk and make transformational changes despite ever-shorter cycle times
  3. Holding leaders accountable for embedding learning and improvement in the way the organization operates

Focuses on Organizational Success (Sustainability)

Exemplified by:

  1. Working with leaders to create a focus on short- and longer-term factors that affect the organization, its reputation, its stakeholders, and its future marketplace success, including needed core competencies and skills
  2. Accomplishing strategic succession planning for topmost leaders, selecting the CEO, and setting appropriate compensation 
  3. Focusing on the “big picture,” ensuring that organizational planning anticipates future marketplace, economic, and technological influences and disruptions

Guides the Organization for Innovation

Exemplified by:

  1. Holding leaders accountable for an environment where strategic opportunities are identified, and the workforce is supported in taking intelligent risks

Governs by Fact

Exemplified by:

  1. Compelling the organization to measure performance both inside the organization and in its competitive environment
  2. Ensuring that data and analysis are used in operational and strategic decision making
  3. Challenging leaders and the organization to extract larger meaning from data and information
  4. Conducting audits and overseeing financial controls

Encourages Societal Contributions

Exemplified by:

  1. Acting as a governance role model for public and community responsibility 
  2. Holding leaders accountable for organizational actions leading to societal well-being and benefit, thereby contributing to organizational success
  3. Motivating the organization to excel beyond minimal compliance with laws and regulations

Ensures Ethics and Transparency

Exemplified by:

  1. Demonstrating and requiring highly ethical behavior in all board and organizational activities and interactions
  2. Governing with transparency through open communication of clear and accurate information 
  3. Holding leaders accountable for open communication of clear and accurate organizational information

Ensures a Focus on Delivering Value and Results

Exemplified by:

  1. Driving the organization to achieve excellent performance results
  2. Driving the organization’s leaders to exceed stakeholder requirements and achieve value for all stakeholders 

How do members of your Board Of Directors or your Advisory Body perform relative to these attributes and behaviors? Are they fulfilling all their responsibilities? Are they going beyond their roles and stepping into "leadership" roles? Would a discussion or self-assessment using these attributes enhance Board performance? This could start their journey into building a high performing organization in collaboration with the organization's senior leaders.

2019-2020 Baldrige Excellence Framework Business/Nonprofit cover artwork

Baldrige Excellence Framework

The Baldrige Excellence Framework has empowered organizations to accomplish their missions, improve results, and become more competitive. It includes the Criteria for Performance Excellence, core values and concepts, and guidelines for evaluating your processes and results.

Purchase your copy today!

Available versions: Business/Nonprofit, Education, and Health Care

About the author

Harry Hertz “The Baldrige Cheermudgeon”

I am Harry Hertz, the Baldrige Cheermudgeon, and Director Emeritus of the Baldrige Program. I joined the Program in 1992 after a decade in management in the analytical chemistry and chemical sciences laboratories at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the home of the Baldrige Program. I started my career at NIST (NBS) as a bench analytical chemist.

My favorite aspects of the Baldrige Program are: (1) the opportunity to interact with leading thinkers from all sectors of the U.S. economy who serve as volunteers in the Baldrige Program, who participate in the Baldrige Executive Fellows Program, and who represent Award applicants at the forefront of the continuous journey to performance excellence, and (2) the intellectual challenge of synthesizing ideas from leading thinkers and from personal research into Insights on the Road to Performance Excellence and other blogs that tackle challenges at the “leading edge of validated leadership and performance practice,” and contribute to the continuous revision of the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework.

Outside of work I spend my time with family (including three beautiful granddaughters), exercising, baking bread, traveling, educating tomorrow’s leaders, and participating on various boards and board committees.

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Great article.

I will be distributing a few copies where they may do some good.

Many thanks for writing it.

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