Co-ops and condo owners who are willing to serve on a board soon discover that it is not an easy task. There are controversies to resolve, decisions that affect everyone, books to balance and finances with no room for error. Many people choose to serve on boards despite the pressure and stress, even if they have been serving for years.

As a volunteer board member, they are bound by three legal fiduciary obligations: obedience, care and loyalty. This means that the best interests of the organization must be considered before their personal or professional interests. It also means that they have to make sure that the organization is in accordance with the law and fulfills its mission.

One of the primary duties of a board is to supervise the organization’s program to ensure they stay true to their purpose. This requires detailed knowledge of the company’s programs and services and who is involved in them, as well as their results and impact. Monitoring of these activities is essential to a board’s other important responsibilities: strategic planning and financial oversight.

One of the most challenging aspects of being an executive board member is identifying and preventing certain patterns of decision-making which may have been developed over time. Once these patterns are so established, they are part of the informal culture of the board. They could have devastating effects on an organization. It’s important that board members are aware of the risks, and regularly review the manual for board members or other documents to ensure that they adhere to good governance.