These were the words of Mary Parker Follett (1868 – 1933) an American social worker, management consultant and pioneer in the fields of organizational theory and organizational behaviour.
Along with Lillian Gilbreth (1878 – 1972), Mary Follett was one of the two great (women) management gurus in the early days of classical management theory.
So how does this relate to a Board of Management?
Boards can only do ‘things’ through other people.
One of the most important tasks falling to a Board is the hiring, or firing, of a CEO. Having hired a CEO, it is the Board’s role to support him/her in harnessing company resources in order to implement tasks designed to achieve organisational goals. By reaching goals the organisation is moving toward realising its mission and vision.
The CEO’s success is the Board’s success; the CEO’s failure is the Board’s failure.
If a Board is continually discussing day-to-day operations, and members seem to know better how to run the organisation then, by implication, there’s a lack confidence in the CEO and/or senior management. If so then the Board needs to evaluate the performance of the CEO in light of the organisation’s strategic plan, and decide whether they made the right decision in employing him/her , or whether he/she is the right person for the job. Maybe it needs to review the Strategic Plan.
An effective Board appoints a leader as CEO, and then having established the framework to operate in, supports him/her to get on with the business of realising strategic goals and, thereby, the organisation’s mission and vision.
Management, whether its a Board or Management, or day-to-day managers, is getting things done through other people.