Richard Farnell is Chair of Together for Change in the dioceses of Coventry and Warwickshire and long-term trustee of various organisations.
To celebrate Trustees Week, we asked Richard to reflect on what makes a good trustee.
I’ve just finished breakfast, a rather frugal affair of Weetabix and toast, and I should be getting on with reading papers for a board meeting later in the week, but instead I will take a few minutes out to write this blog.
So, how am I getting on as a trustee? I’m not sure. I might have been doing it for 25 years and have chaired boards for 20, but I could still be clearer.
Being thoroughly committed to the vision of the trust is pretty basic. If you have difficulty aligning with its purpose, forget it!
Experience suggests that a quick decision to be involved should be resisted. Explore the context, investigate the history, assess the story now being told and, most important, meet the people who run the trust, executives and non-executives. Look at the logic and at the feel!
How do you go about clarifying expectations of a trustee in this particular organisation? Basic, practical expectations of time, work and relationship building need to be understood. Allow for the fact that in most trusts the actuality will be greater than the predicted.
In the light of judgements about the above, do you know yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What will you bring to the board? What is your strategic fit? Do you want to be part of this team and do they want you? Can you see yourself being appropriately critical and enthusiastically supportive of those you are expecting to do the hard lifting?
One thing is certain! The learning doesn’t stop. You may think you have experience of all eventualities, but you haven’t. A second thing, that you earnestly hope and pray for, is that the people who should benefit from the work of the trust actually do so – then celebrate!
Author: Bethany Eckley
Date: 13 November 2014
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