Principles of sound decision making

General principles of decision making reflect the legal issues relating to the governance and leadership of a sports organisation, including the requirements that board members must:

  • act within their powers;
  • make decisions, and act, in the best interests of the organisation, in the present and for the future;
  • be appropriately informed of relevant factors relating to a significant proposal under discussion;
  • not be swayed by personal interests or factors that are irrelevant;
  • be able to defend their decisions in terms of their legal duties and powers; seek and follow professional advice and guidance where necessary; and
  • develop a clear and transparent process by which decisions are made.

By following these principles, board members can be confident that they are fulfilling their duties in accordance with good practice; can demonstrate the professional manner in which decisions are made; reduce the opportunity for perceived or real conflicts of interest to cloud decisions, and inspire confidence within interested parties and that the organisation is acting transparently. Board members should be entirely familiar with their statutory duties as company directors and/or trustees of a charitable organisation.

Effective boards make decisions in a way that meets the requirements of all relevant legislation and the organisation’s governing document. These will include:

  • constitutional directions regarding the conduct of meetings and decision making;
  • collective responsibility;
  • respecting the conditions attached to the use of delegated powers, including the monitoring of the use of such powers; and
  • recording.

Board members should be able to demonstrate that they exercise their powers by drawing on relevant and sufficient evidence. This will generally be different for each decision, depending on the situation and circumstances involved. On occasion, it may involve seeking expert advice from a suitably qualified professional or sub-committee of stakeholders, community members or other diverse populations whose perspective can be of value to the board. Where such advice is sought, it would be beneficial to have appropriate records of the reasons for seeking that advice, the advice received and the actions taken by the appropriate decision-making forum as a result of that advice.

Good decision making can be facilitated by:

  • ensuring participants are given enough time to prepare for meetings;
  • provision of high-quality board packs;
  • obtaining expert opinions when necessary;
  • allowing time for debate and challenge, especially for

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