Standards for the Board

The IoD Standards for the Board are a basic guideline and we recommend you obtain them and use them as the basis for reviewing your board's performance.

Brefi Group uses The Standards for the Board as a benchmark to measure good behaviours, processes and performance of individual directors and company boards. They can be used both to review behaviour and to set competence standards.


The Institute of Directors' definitive standards are based on a major study of good practice, undertaken by Henley Management College and involving several hundred UK directors and many boards.


Good Practice for Directors - Standards for the Board was published in 1995, following a research project undertaken in conjunction with Henley Management College. The conclusions and recommendations form the basis for many of the articles published on this web site.


They provide a framework for all boards and are offered as a contribution to the achievement of high standards of professionalism and competence for all directors.


The standards are presented in three related sections, each providing checklists and frameworks against which boards and directors can measure themselves. In particular, they address:


Organising and running the board

  • Board and management responsibilities

  • Board composition and organisation
  • Board meetings
  • Improving effectiveness

The tasks of the board and indicators of good practice

  • Establishing vision, mission and values
  • Setting strategy and structure
  • Delegating to management
  • Responsibilities to stakeholders

Building an effective board

  • A summary of the key personal qualities and areas of knowledge most likely to be needed in the boardroom

The standards enable you to:

  • Clarify the board's tasks and the way it conducts its affairs
  • Review the composition and performance of your board
  • Determine the issues your board should address, and how fully it is doing so
  • Give better focus to board decision-making
  • More effectively select, induct, train and develop directors
  • Assess the personal qualities and knowledge possessed by your board's directors
  • Identify areas of board weakness, enabling you to take appropriate actions
  • Build a more effective board
  • Fulfil your board role and responsibilities with greater professionalism
  • Establish best practice criteria for your board

Processes and practice for effective directors and boards

It is desirable to have a set of agreed processes and practices focusing on what the board should address in order to conduct its affairs properly and effectively.


A board's key purpose is to ensure the company's prosperity by collectively directing the company's affairs, whilst meeting the appropriate interests of its shareholders and relevant stakeholders.


In pursuing its key purpose, a board faces a uniquely demanding set of responsibilities and challenges, the complexity of which can be seen in some of the seemingly contradictory pressures it faces:

  • The board must simultaneously be entrepreneurial and drive the business forward, while keeping it under prudent control.

  • The board is required to be sufficiently knowledgeable about the workings of the company to be answerable for its actions, yet be able to stand back from the day to day management of the company and retain an objective, long-term view.

  • The board must be sensitive to the pressures of short-term issues and yet be informed about broader, long-term trends.

  • The board must be knowledgeable about "local" issues and yet be aware of potential or actual non-local, increasingly international, competitive and other influences.

  • The board is expected to be focused upon the commercial needs of its business while acting responsibly towards its employees, business partners and society as a whole.

Standards for the Board: Improving the Effectiveness of Your Board (Good practice for directors) Paperback – 19 Apr 2002


Standards for the Board is out of print but you might be able to obtain a copy from Amazon.


This valuable guide provides an insight into how your board and its directors should be organised and run for maximum effectiveness.


The use of these standards should help directors improve the overall performance of their board and its individual members, and enhance the success of the company as a whole.


The text applies to all boards of UK organisations, regardless of size or type, and should be relevant to every company director.


It is based on a study of boardroom good practice, and represents a collective view of company directors drawn from a very broad cross-section of companies.

What to do next

If you would  like to know more about how we can support your personal development as a director, facilitate an away day or corporate retreat, or assist with your board's corporate governance, contact us or call +44 (0) 7970 891 343.

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