Governance as leadership comprises 3 modes of governance, namely the fiduciary mode, the strategic mode and the generative mode. Each is important and make a real contribution to the sustainability of an organisation, however when all three are practiced at the appropriate time, then a higher level of leadership and governance is achieved.
Firstly, the fiduciary mode: a basic and fundamental requirement of good governance. Protect the assets of the business, ensure resources are deployed efficiently and effectively and for everyone, both the board and management, to always act in the best interests of the organisation.
Then the strategic mode: the board and management think together to discover strategic priorities and drivers; behaviour mirrors enquiring minds, is open to challenge based on strategic data and the focus is the ”ends” rather than the "means”;
And finally, the generative mode: where boards provide a less recognised but critical source of leadership for the organisation; the board’s core work is creative, challenges the norms, applies a robust deliberative process and plays a key role in the framing of issues and the development of strategic options and plans. That is, in this mode, the board gets involved sooner rather than later and becomes a valuable part of the solution – a very different role to that of the fiduciary and strategic modes.
The suggestion is not that a board has to make a decision in which mode to operate – all 3 are important and contribute to the sustainability of the organisation. However, especially for non-profit organisations, modes 1 and 2 are much more comfortable places to be; mode 3 presents challenges that require different thinking, capacity and capability and this by itself, may be “bridge too far” Good governance however requires us to at least consider the governance as leadership model and how it may be applied to our organisations.