The following exercise was
suggested to the author by similarly structured exercises presented by Chait,
Ryan, and Taylor (2004, p. 170-172). It helps us think about the roles and
value to the agency of the Board and the CEO.
- Complete the following analogy: The agency Board is
to the CEO as __________ is to __________.
- Complete this statement: If the agency suddenly had
no Board, the result would be __________.
- Complete this statement: If the agency suddenly had
no CEO, the result would be __________.
- Complete this statement: If the agency suddenly had
neither a Board nor a CEO, the result would be __________.
Let me note in passing Board members are, through the SSI CEO, Implementers, from the perspective of
the Helping Triangle. They also may be and often are Initiators and are, in some situations, Authorizers as well. It is important to keep the perspective that
specific individuals frequently fill multiple roles. This reality is both
challenging and potentially confusing for the individual and for members of the
Management and Leadership Teams.
The concept of delegation
also requires additional attention. The most important aspect of delegation to
understand is delegation is not transfer.
The Board delegates a portion of its accountability to the CEO. This does not
mean the Board is then less accountable. Rather, it means the CEO is now
accountable to the Board to whatever extent the Board has delegated its
accountability. He is the Board’s delegate or representative and acts on its
behalf. When functioning as the Board’s delegate, whatever the CEO does is as
if the Board does it itself. The Board is, then, accountable to the Authorizers
and other entities for whatever the CEO does or does not do when acting as the
Board’s delegate or representative.
The same principle applies when delegating responsibility. The Board delegates a portion of its
responsibilities to the CEO. These responsibilities are duties, activities, and
tasks for which the Board is responsible. Carrying out those responsibilities
is expected to result in specified outcomes. The Board is no less responsible
for achieving those outcomes after delegating the responsibilities to the CEO.
If the CEO does not get the job done, the Board did not get the job done. The
responsibilities were delegated, not transferred.
The principle applies in the same way to authority. The Board’s authority does not diminish after delegating
a portion of its authority to the CEO. Here too, he is the Board’s delegate or
representative and exercises the delegated authority on
the Board’s behalf. The Board is fully accountable for the CEO’s use of the
delegated authority. The SSI CEO has the types and levels of delegated
accountability, responsibility, and authority the SSI Board chooses to delegate
to him. This is the Executive Function.
The SSI Board delegates, but does not transfer, its executive function to the
SSI CEO. This is what is meant by the Chief Executive Officer designation.
An important aspect of delegation is, just as the Board may
delegate portions of its accountability, responsibility, and authority, it may
withdraw them for whatever reasons it believes sufficient. This also holds for
delegation by the CEO to other staff members and to their delegation to still
other staff members. Whatever is delegated may be withdrawn.
It is helpful to keep an additional concept in mind as we further
consider structuring the internal eco system. Just as accountability,
responsibility, and authority are delegated, we may think of Board Policies
being delegated to the CEO. Those policies then become his policies as he
manages SSI. For Management purposes, he may add additional Executive policies.
To avoid confusion, refer to these additional Executive policies as Directives. The delegated Board policies
are, nonetheless, still fully in force and effect. The same principle applies
as the CEO delegates accountability, responsibility, and authority to other SSI
Management staff. The Board policies and the Directives are delegated. The
person to whom these functions are delegated may, in turn, add additional
This nesting of accountability, responsibility, and authority
expands throughout SSI until each staff member has some level of delegated
accountability, responsibility, and authority. Each staff member, in turn, is
fully subject to the Board policies, the Directives, and to those additional
Directives added at each delegation point.
In addition to Board policies, the SSI Board also has various
priorities for SSI operation – values the Board expects to inform all SSI
activity – and a strategic vision for SSI and its functioning. These
priorities, values, and strategic vision are delegated to the CEO and
subsequently to SSI Management staff and to each SSI staff member. At each
delegation point at each nesting level local accountability,
responsibility, authority, Directives, values, priorities, and strategic vision
are necessarily introduced into the process and become part of SSIs internal
We can see the above nested delegation is potentially complex and,
to some extent, unavoidably confusing. This would be difficult enough to manage
were delegation a one-time process remaining static once completed. It is not.
Delegation is an ongoing process within SSI and the specifics of what is
delegated to whom also changes with some regularity, including staff members
and assignments changing from time to time. Beyond this, Policies, Directives,
values, priorities, and strategic vision all have what I call fuzzy edges. By this I mean they do not
consistently have crisp, unambiguous definition and meaning. At the edge,
different people reasonably understand them differently. When the fuzzy edges are combined with the low
likelihood of the nested delegation process resulting in completely consistent
and non-contradicting Policies, Directives, values, priorities, and strategic vision,
it is clear the significance of and the potential negative effects of delegation drift discussed earlier are
substantial. Please keep these management challenges and realities in mind as
Notice in Figure 5 the Executive Function “A” – is on
the circle around the primary Service Function. It is merely one of several
secondary functions supporting SSIs primary function: providing assessment,
counseling, and case management services for children. From this position on
the circle, all authority and responsibility delegated from the SSI Board to
the SSI Executive pass through the Executive Function. What happens next is at
the essence of the ecological approach to human services agency management.
Lets use a simple example to make our point here. The Board delegates its hiring responsibility and
authority to the SSI Executive. Within the approved budget, he hires the types
and numbers of people needed, in his (or her) opinion, to do the work of the
agency. Hiring transitions from a Board Function to an Executive Function,
including both responsibility and authority. The SSI Executive may retain
hiring responsibility and authority and do the work himself or at least keep it
within the Executive Function where he has direct supervision and control.
Alternatively, he may delegate hiring responsibility, hiring
authority, or both to another location on the circle, e.g., to the Human Resources Function. In the SSI eco system,
hiring responsibility and authority are delegated to the Human Resources Manager,
for all approved SSI positions below the Manager level. Manager level positions
or higher remain the responsibility of and under the authority of the Executive
The duties, responsibilities, and associated authority starting
with the Board and delegated to the SSI Executive are, in part, delegated to
other secondary functions. The SSI CEO and his executive team cannot and should
not try to do all of the work of the agency. In addition to policy
implementation, delegating responsibilities and authority for the various SSI
duties and activities to the other secondary functions on the circle in Figure
5 is a major sub-function within the Executive Function. Further, the Executive
Function retains oversight
responsibility to assure the delegated duties and responsibilities are being
handled correctly and on time. There are many other Executive sub-functions
that may potentially be delegated beyond those briefly highlighted below. Here,
simply note each of the Executive sub-functions is either managed within the
Executive Function or delegated to other secondary functions on the circle
around the primary Service Function.
As used here, oversight
relates to delegation. The SSI Board delegates its Executive Function to its
CEO. Nonetheless, the Board’s accountability, responsibility, and authority do
not, in any way, diminish. Neither does the Board just walk away or take a
hands off approach to its continuing accountability, responsibility, and
authority. Rather, it has procedures and processes in place to determine
whether or not the CEO is managing the Executive Function as the Board wants it
managed. Through these processes and procedures, the Board oversees the work of the CEO. In turn, the CEO similarly oversees
the work of those SSI staff members to whom he delegates portions of the
accountability, responsibility, and authority delegated to him by the Board.
Below is a sample of the sub-functions the CEO may or may not choose to
delegate to others on the SSI staff.
Develop and direct the SSI strategic planning
process, maintaining an awareness of changing community needs, new developments
in services for children, and available resources.
Oversee agency services and operations to assure
optimum efficiency and effectiveness of services.
Provide assistance to the SSI Board with policy
Manage and oversee internal committees, joint
ventures, contracts, and collaborative efforts with other organizations or
Develop an effective organizational structure
and procedures to assure organizational goals are achieved in accordance with
Board policies and regulatory guidelines.
Develop and manage SSIs Board approved
operating budget in accordance with Board policy.
Prepare appropriate fiscal forecasts and
Develop performance measures for each
operational area of the SSI internal eco system and monitor performance
Assure the adequate availability of and manage
SSI facilities, equipment, supplies, and other resources.
Support adequate agency funding by researching
and identifying potential sources of income.
Develop, recommend, and implement adjustments to
current services, new services, and expansion projects, while assuring
effective system design and internal control.
Evaluate SSI services and report the results to
Maintain sufficient, qualified and competent
staff by recruiting, selecting, orienting, and training employees.
Assure procedures are in place to promote and
protect the safety and well-being of agency employees and volunteers while they
are performing their job duties.
Support staff performance results by planning
objectives, by monitoring and appraising performance results, and by coaching,
counseling, and disciplining employees.
Assure agency compliance with all applicable
regulatory, legal, and accreditation-related standards and requirements.
Develop and maintain effective relationships
with regulatory agencies, other human services agencies, and the community.
Promote and maintain a positive agency image by
attending and participating in various social and civic functions, by making
personal visits, and by assuring an understanding in the community of SSI’s
Serve as the primary agency spokesperson.
are other Executive Sub-functions, but those included serve to show us the
types and range of responsibilities, when managed successfully, assure SSI’s
success and agency excellence. Below are a few examples of additional secondary
functions and a sampling of the sub-functions delegated to the secondary
functions from the Executive Function.