Lauren Trask, QuIHN
Smiling people having a meeting

If we combine the concepts of culture, leadership and governance we acknowledge the philosophy and the fundamental pillars that enable the non-government sector to meet the needs of communities that require support. When I work with an organisation my one question is “what level of quality do those receiving the service of the organisation deserve”? The answer is always the highest quality.  For quality to be realised, the organisation must have a culture that provides effective leadership, a common agreed vision and a swagger that instills confidence.        

Within a successful organisation, good governance is applied through the leadership of the board.  The role of the board is clearly defined.  The roles of the positions held on the board are clearly defined and linked to the vision, mission and values which will be held within the strategic plan. The responsibility of legislative and organisational compliance is clearly articulated.  The board will ascertain and monitor strategic risk regularly and ensure that organisational risks are monitored by the CEO.

Leadership is identified throughout the organisation not just in those with an executive title or managerial role – and never assume that managers are automatically leaders. Leaders have a vision and can communicate that vision. They are driven by passion, they inspire, are confident yet humble, they motivate and demonstrate commitment. Good leaders are intuitive; they have the ability to employ effective change management strategies. Due to the essence of the NGO sector, for the majority, is that we can assume that it’s not about the money.  Working for community brings a sense of spirit, a passion for social justice and the provision of access to the highest quality services available. Essentially true leaders will engage, identify a common sense of purpose, whilst acknowledging the input and achievements of staff.

Identify and recognise failure fast

Call it a problem or an issue or a potential problem, whatever it is, recognise it and own it. Acknowledge where or what went wrong. Understand that as soon as a problem or potential problem is identified there is an opportunity for improvement.  Identify the root cause; 80% of issues are systematic.  Change is our only constant: embrace it.

Measure what matters

Data is key. The most difficult part is identifying what questions require answers that will further improve the systems that enable the strategic leaders to govern, and operational leaders to achieve.  Establish a dashboard that is fit for purpose for both your role and the organisation. Use the person centered stories to reinforce the stats and bring it back to the person.


Develop a culture that drives performance and encourages leadership. Communicate; tell people what you do. Communicate; raise awareness and advise on change.  Communicate the outcomes of projects and programs.  Communicate the failures and what improvements were identified to mitigate risk and review or work out whether those strategies worked. Understand, regardless of the sector, empathy is empowering. It leads to learning growth and development. Empathy will add depth to your ability to lead effectively

Don’t know everything 

In fact, it’s better to know someone that might know. Being open to wisdom is key: expand your networks.  If you don’t know, say so, but add that you can find out.

If an organisation, as a collective, can identify and agree on the common purpose or the meaning we uncover the essence or motivation as to why people work. What are the motivators for your staff and colleagues?

Other governance and leadership resources on Community Door

The Organisational Development Toolkit: particularly section two (governance and leadership)

Professional development resources developed through the sector readiness initiative

Organisational development modules (Module two: collaboration and planning; and Module four: leadership)

A recording of the organisational health check-up webinar held in August 2015, and associated resources

The boards and management committees, and human resource management resources on Community Door

A list of external resources around governance and leadership

About Lauren Trask

Lauren Trask is a strategic thinker; applying a quality management framework across both strategic and operational function. Lauren supports organisations to further develop, implement and evaluate effective business systems across leadership, safety, quality, risk and governance; that work. Lauren participates in a number of national advisory positions to government with a keen focus on the achievement of objectives that run multiple processes to deliver better outcomes for minority populations and increase the capacity to meet the needs of community. 

As both a director of QuIHN and the ‘Accreditation Specialist – Business and Clinical Systems’ at QAIHC, Lauren directly supports and drives continuous quality improvement.  Most importantly, a mother to both a capitalist and socialist, growing, balancing and developing a culture of leadership is challenging but the principles remain the same: lead and embed a culture that is fit for purpose.  

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