Board Practices that Separate the Best from the Rest

By Barry S. Bader

The AHA’s 2011 Governance Survey shows that good governance practices continue to take hold among hospitals and health systems. Driven by powerful economic pressures and stringent legal requirements to be visionary, strategic, diligent and independent, boards are applying various “good governance” practices, including competency-based succession planning, board orientation and education, routine executive sessions, CEO retention planning, and board self-evaluation.

However, there’s a distinction between “good” and “great,” a differentiation between merely implementing practices and fully living the values that underscore those practices. Many boards are effective and discharge their duties reasonably well – but a few excel, inspiring and leading their organizations to greatness. What separates the best from the rest? In my experience, three things stand out: a culture of high expectations, an investment in governance capacity, and depth of board leadership.

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