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5. Board effectiveness


The National Board works as an effective team, using the appropriate balance of skills, experience, backgrounds and knowledge to make informed decisions.



The National Board has a key impact on whether the Party thrives. The tone the National Board sets through its leadership, behaviour, culture and overall performance is critical to the Party’s success. It is important to have a rigorous approach to NB appointment, performance and development, and to the National Board’s conduct. In an effective National Board, board members feel it is safe to suggest, question and challenge ideas and address, rather than avoid, difficult topics.


Key outcomes

  1. The National Board’s culture, behaviours and processes help it to be effective; this includes accepting and resolving challenges or different views.

  2. All National Board members have appropriate skills and knowledge of the Party and can give enough time to be effective in their role.

  3. The chair enables the National Board to work as an effective team by developing strong working relationships between members of the board and creates a culture where differences are aired and resolved.

  4. The National Board takes decisions collectively and confidently. Once decisions are made the National Board unites behind them and accepts them as binding.

Recommended practice

  1. Working as an effective team

    1. The National Board meets as often as it needs to be effective.

    2. The chair, working with board members and staff, plans the board’s programme of work and its meetings, making sure board members have the necessary information, time and space to explore key issues and reach well-considered decisions, so that National Board time is well-used.

    3. The National Board has a vice-chair or similar who provides a sounding board for the chair and serves as an intermediary for the other National Board members if needed.

    4. The National Board regularly discusses its effectiveness and its ability to work together as a team, including individuals’ motivations and expectations about behaviours. National Board members take time to understand each other’s motivations to build trust within the board and the chair asks for feedback on how to create an environment where National Board members can constructively challenge each other.

    5. Where significant differences of opinion arise, National Board members take time to consider the range of perspectives and explore alternative outcomes, respecting alternative views and the value of compromise in board discussions.

    6. The National Board collectively receives specialist in-house or external advice and support. The board can access independent professional advice, such as legal or financial advice, at the Party’s expense if needed for the board to discharge its duties.

  2. Reviewing the National Board’s composition

    1. The National Board has, and regularly considers, the mix of skills, knowledge and experience it needs to govern, lead and deliver the Party’s purposes effectively. It reflects this mix in its membership appointments, balancing the need for continuity with the need to refresh the National Board.

    2. The National Board is big enough that the Party’s work can be carried out and changes to the board’s composition can be managed without too much disruption. A National Board of at least ten but no more than twenty members is typically considered good practice.

  3. Overseeing appointments

    1. There is a formal, rigorous and transparent procedure to appoint new National Board members to the board, from a list put forward by the ‘1957 Committee’.

    2. The search for new National Board members is carried out, and appointments or nominations for election are made, on merit against objective criteria and considering the benefits of diversity on the board. Regular skills audits by the ‘1957 Committee’ informs the search process.

    3. National Board members are appointed for an agreed length of time, subject to any applicable constitutional or statutory provisions relating to election and re-election. If a National Board member has served for more than twelve years, their reappointment is:

      1. subject to a particularly rigorous review and takes into account the need for progressive refreshing of the board

      2. explained in the National Board members’ annual report.

    4. If the Party’s governing document provides for one or more members to be nominated and elected by a wider membership, or elected by a wider membership after nomination or recommendation by the ‘1957 Committee’, the Party supports the members to play an informed role in these processes.

  4. Developing the National Board

    1. National Board members receive an appropriately resourced induction when they join the National Board. This includes meetings with the ‘1957 Committee’ and covers all areas of the Party’s work. National Board members are given the opportunity to have ongoing learning and development.

    2. The National Board reviews its own performance and that of individual members, including the chair. This happens every year, with the ‘1957 Committee’ every two years. Such evaluation typically considers the board’s balance of skills, experience and knowledge, its diversity in the widest sense, how the board works together and other factors relevant to its effectiveness and performance.

    3. The National Board explains how the Party reviews or evaluates the board in the governance statement in the National Board members’ annual report.

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