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- Your people
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Your key players
Whether your group is informal or formal, incorporated or unincorporated, at its core are people. Each person has their own roles and responsibilities, and relationships with one another. In this topic, we introduce the key players in an organisation, community or nation. These are your board, management, staff and community members.
While reading this topic, think about the following questions and how they relate to your organisation, community or nation:
- How is governance like footy?
- Who are the key players in your group?
- Why is it important for the key players in your group to have a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities?
Governance is a bit like footy
You can compare the way governance works in your organisation, community or nation to the way a footy team works. A footy team is a set of relationships, roles and responsibilities between a group of people who want to play and win the footy game together. A footy team doesn’t operate alone. They have their community, fans and club members. These are the people who barrack for their team to win, and who the players look to for moral support when they play. Sometimes, whole families have been loyal members of a footy club for many generations.
A footy match depends on all the players, captain and coach. Everyone needs to understand their role and perform it to the best of their ability – for their members, the public and their sponsors. The same is true for governing a group.
For example, when a footy team goes onto the field to play, all the players must know their position and role in the team’s game plan. Each player brings their different skills and they play together as a team.
The captain leads the players on the field. The captain encourages and guides the players, and helps them use the tactics they have practised. The coach sets the strategies and tactics for the game. They stand back and watch the players play. At quarter time, the coach assesses how the game is going, and gives any new instructions to the captain. It’s then the captain’s job to guide any strategy changes on the field.
How effective would your football team be if there was no coach? Or if the players did not know what position they were meant to play? Or the coach and captain argued about strategy on the sideline? Or if the team and club ignored their members or sponsors?
Your team has a better chance of winning a game (and the premiership) if:
- the coach and captain develop a strategic game plan
- communicate the plan to the players
- the players understand what they must do as individuals and as part of a team
- the players have the skills and resources they need to execute the plan.
It’s the same for any organisation, community or nation working together to achieve their goals.
In this video, winners and finalists of the 2022 Indigenous Governance Awards discuss the importance of community control, the involvement of local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and how they maintain a strong connection to their communities.
Your group’s players
The table below compares the role of ‘key players’ within an organisation, community or nation with key players in a Marngrook team. Marngrook means ‘game ball’ – now known as Australian Rules football.
If you’re not sure who the equivalent key players are in your group, check your constitution or rule book.
Remember that roles sometimes have different names. These names can be different for different groups. Incorporated and unincorporated organisations may also use different names, for example, unincorporated organisations might not have a board. We’ve included some alternatives, but there may be more. All groups are different. If you think something or someone is missing – add them in!
Roles in a game of Marngrook
Coach and senior coaching staff
The coach and coaching staff set the game plan. This is the strategies and tactics for the game and premiership season.
During the game, they sit on the sidelines and let the captain and players play the game and execute the game plan.
Club directors steer the direction of the whole club. They make sure the club’s money is properly spent.
The board of directors – referred to as ‘the board’ and sometimes called the ‘governing body’.
The board of directors:
A board of directors usually has a chairperson, who leads the board.
Learn more about the role of the board of directors.
Club members, the community and fans
They watch the game and barrack for their team.
They take part in team events and stay informed about club news.
Members of a group.
Members elect or nominate the board directors to represent them.
Learn more about the role of members.
Leads the team by making sure the players follow the strategies and tactics set by the coach and senior coaching staff.
The captain explains coaching decisions to the players and motivates and looks after them.
Chief executive officer (CEO) and managers
The CEO and management:
Learn more about the role of the CEO and managers.
The players work together as a team, training and learning. They know the rules of the game and the club’s processes and policies.
They do the work and are role models of club culture.
Staff perform duties as instructed and directed by the CEO and management.
Staff may also support the board directors in their role.
Learn more about the role of staff.
Everyone in the club – coach, captain, players.
Everyone has specific duties to perform at training, before the game, during the game and post-game.
Organisation, community or nation
Everyone involved in the governance of your group – members, board of directors, CEO, management and staff.
Your people and your organisations
Because many nations, communities and groups today exercise their self-governance through incorporated or unincorporated organisations, we focus this section on the key people who take on governing roles and responsibilities in such organisations, and their relationships with each other.
The governance of organisations is different to the cultural governance of a First Nation, clan, tribe or extended family group. However, all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations operate within a wider environment of these influential cultural networks, as well as their allies, partners, and external stakeholders.
The cultural legitimacy and mandate of an organisation to govern comes not only from the legislative frameworks under which they were created, but from their members and cultural ways of governing. Organisations work at a cultural interface where they have to balance often competing expectations from these.
We can think of organisational governance as being the system of formally structured decision-making authority, direction, control and accountability exercised by particular people to accomplish the overall vision of an organisation. The management and staff put such systems into operation. In an organisational context, management involves the process of administration, coordinating and using resources (including human) in line with the board’s policies and strategic direction to achieve its objectives.
The nation and community members who are represented and served by your organisations sit at the top of self-governance. Within an organisational structure there is commonly a board or governing body of some kind, a set of managers and executives, and a range of staff. We can peel back the governing work of these different people, just like the way a footy team plays the game.
We’ve translated our extensive research on Indigenous governance into helpful resources and tools to help you strengthen your governance practices.
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