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Your Board’s Goals Are Your GPS To Success

To drive exceptional results for kids, your organization needs an exceptional board.

And exceptional boards are the ones who define their priorities clearly, in line with the organization’s priorities.

But, the most successful boards don’t stop there. They put their goals to work for them…like a GPS to success.

five-star boards run on the five Ps

Boards who have a clear set of articulated priorities and stay focused on them throughout the year are the ones who not only achieve success year after year, they can look back and see exactly how they got there.

It’s why our five Ps for five-star boards start with Priorities. They’re your building blocks for a wildly successful year.

What gets measured is what gets done.  

Does your board have goals? Can each trustee clearly articulate your board’s priorities for the year ahead?

Or does your goal setting or strategic direction feel like this?

It’s easy to get side-tracked at each meeting by what feels like the most important thing in the moment.

But, to deliver on your charter’s promise, your board needs to be thinking about more than what it needs to do today or at the next meeting. You need to be thinking about what the organization needs, at a strategic level, and in three-to-five-year spans.

How can you know you’re on track to show up where you should five years from now?

It’s about your goals.

The best way to make progress in the short amount of time you have together as a board is to be laser focused on your priorities and your performance as a governance team.

With goals in place, your board is able to set and maintain a focus on what matters, foster a sense of team collaboration, and measure your progress.

So, rather than feeling lost in a labyrinth, you have your goals as a GPS to guide you through. Because what gets measured, gets done.

Your Board’s Goals Are Not Your CEO’s Goals

Before we dive into how to set your board’s goals, let’s get clear about what board goals even are. The best place to start is to acknowledge that your board’s goals will differ from your CEO’s goals.

Combined, they’ll help strengthen your board-CEO partnership and help your governance team to meet the organization’s goals.

Board goals clearly articulate how the board will add value to the organization. Each of the board’s goals should be owned by a specific committee. And, when rolled up all together, those committee goals make up the board’s overall goals.

Meanwhile, the CEO’s goals articulate what the CEO is expected to deliver each year. They focus on organizational performance metrics, and often tie directly back to your charter, your accountability plan with your authorizer, and to your annual CEO evaluation. For example: teacher hiring, satisfaction, and retention; parent satisfaction; or test scores.


Your board’s goals are the first stepping stone towards exceptional results.
Watch this webinar to learn exactly how board goals differ from CEO goals.
Plus, get real-life examples and our process for setting board goals.


Your Board Should Have Aspirational and Operational Goals

Board goals can –and should — be both operational and aspirational.

Operational goals are the core annual tasks that tie to your charter agreement.

These are the things you need to get done each year in order to have a functioning organization — fiscal oversight, hiring and evaluating teachers, for example.

Aspirational goals are short- and long-term reach goals.

They’re goals you’ll work towards upon completing an operational objective. In short, they’re how you will change the world.

Your aspirational goals are the ones that you should strive to focus on once the operational objectives become routine. These may seem very ambitious, and even insurmountable, to a brand-new organization and its founding board.

But, you can intentionally strive to have the operational items become routine so that they are no longer “goals,” but expectations…and you free up some mental bandwidth for the aspirational.

How to Set Your Board’s Goals and Achieve Them

Set your goals and achieve them with our step-by-step guide to clear, measurable, realistic goals. With seven simple steps, you can use your goals as your guide to success.

Step 1: Understand your board’s impact

First and foremost, assess your board’s value. It’s vital to think about what they’ve accomplished and what is possible with their support. Without your board, what would be different?

For example, if your board has been instrumental in fundraising achievements, think about where you’d be without them. But…be honest. Sometimes, when we ask a board to take a closer look at the last year or two, they’re actually hard-pressed to articulate what would’ve been different for the organization if they hadn’t been there. If that’s the case for your board, acknowledge it so that you can do something about it. Your board can make a difference for your organization and the kids counting on you!

Step 2: Agree on organizational priorities

What are the most important things that your organization needs to get done? Of these priorities, which belong to the CEO and which to the board itself?

If your organization will need to hire three new members this year, two who have HR experience, this may be the organization’s priorities — but not something the CEO needs to handle first hand.

Step 3: Agree on the board’s priorities

Next, it is essential to define the board’s priorities. These are not entirely the same as the CEO’s priorities and goals. How will the board add value to the organization? What will the board focus on this year?

In other words…What are the most important things your board will do this year?

In the example above, the board may be focused on the goal of hiring 3 new members while the CEO and his supporting staff focus on big-picture goals being set.

Step 4: Structure for success

Do you have the right committees to ensure you’ll succeed in contributing to your organization’s goals?

It’s essential that you form the right committees to cover each area of governance work. And strategically assign the right trustees to the right committees.

What’s more, each committee should have a member of the C-Suite for air traffic control and expert guidance.

Building on our example, do you have the right committee in place to hire experienced HR personnel for your board? You’ll want to have the right committee in place to set your board up for success.


Get complete job descriptions for the three of the most vital committees for your charter school board.


Step 5: Draft committees’ goals

Once the board agrees in overarching organizational goals, and you’ve ensured you’re structured for success, committees must be given clear buckets and priorities.

Each committee will translate the organization’s overarching goals into committee-specific SMART goals {that’s Strategic, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound}.

You can then develop a clear work or project plan to achieve each goal.

Be sure that all are in alignment with the goals and are given specific direction to achieve the smart, measurable, attainable, relatable and timely goals.

Step 6: Discuss & approve goals

Your board as a whole should discuss and approve its goals. Without buy-in from each member, your goals aren’t attainable. It’s vital that everyone reviews and approves the goals and tasks they are given. In order to hire the right people and hit the 3 new member goal, your board will need to understand the details expected and feel the committees are set up to achieve their goal.

Check for interdependencies and talk about how you will coordinate efforts. For example: if you are trying to secure a permanent home for the school then the finance, development and facilities committees will all have to coordinate efforts

Ensure the full board approves the committee-level goals for the year. And be sure your CEO or school leader has time to participate in the committee-level goal setting process.

Step 7: Track your progress in a dashboard

Setting goals is just the beginning. The point is to achieve them!  So, last but not least, be sure to track your progress and measure your results.

The BoardonTrack dashboard does this for you and makes it easy to assess where you stand on each individual goal. At any given time you check your dashboard and see where your board rates on each of the five P’s .

How are you tracking your board’s progress?

BoardOnTrack members can track their committees’ goals in their goals dashboard, and assign specific tasks to the appropriate trustees.



Keep reaching for that higher bar!

Board goals help you stay on the path, to keep the summit in your sights. Instead of just focusing on avoiding the cracks and stones that might trip you up along the way. Your board’s goals help you understand where you’re going today, tomorrow, and the rest of this year.

When you set goals, ensure you can achieve them, and track your progress towards them, you know you’re on track to get exceptional results for kids. Whether you’re renewing your charter, connecting with the community, or making the case to potential funders, you can show that you’re on track. Because your board’s goals are on track.

That’s part of why your board’s goals are an integral part of your journey to reaching a higher bar, every year. Having worked with hundreds of boards, we’ve proven what makes exceptional boards. Five-star boards are built on the five Ps, and they start with Priorities.

What goals will your organization accomplish this year? Will you achieve them? When you do, remember, there is always a higher bar, keep reaching.

Our team is here to help.

Schedule a call with us now. We’d love to hear what your board is working towards this year — and how we can help you get there.