Board Competencies

The following competencies have been identified as the requirements for candidates wishing to serve on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Bar Association. All candidates will be asked to identify their top three strengths from among these competencies, and to describe how those strengths will contribute to their effectiveness in serving in this leadership capacity on behalf of the association.


Having and using knowledge of systems, situations, pressures and culture inside the CBA (including its Branches and Sections) to identify potential problems and opportunities; perceiving the impacts of decisions on other components of the association through:

  • Understanding and using CBA policies and systems to solve problems
  • Anticipating the impact of actions on other groups


Interpreting trends in the profession into the appropriate plans or approaches on the part of the CBA. Creating and achieving a desired future state (vision) through influence on CBA values, individual and group goals and systems by:

  • Defining a desired future state
  • Communicating direction with enthusiasm
  • Gaining commitment to vision and values


Working effectively with team or work groups or those outside formal lines of authority to accomplish the goals of the CBA; taking actions that respect the needs and contributions of others; contributing to and accepting consensus by:

  • Exchanging information freely
  • Supporting group decisions
  • Putting group goals ahead of individual goals


Generating creative solutions to work situations; trying different and novel ways to deal with organizational issues and opportunities by:

  • Approaching the issue with imagination and originality
  • Generating novel solutions
  • Suggesting new ways of applying existing knowledge


Using appropriate interpersonal styles and methods to inspire and guide individuals and groups towards goal achievement; modifying behaviour to accommodate tasks, situations and individuals involved through:

  • Demonstrated experience in other governance roles
  • Focusing on the situation, not the person
  • Asking for and gaining commitment to action


Making the appropriate linkages between public policy evolution and the internal policy development and debate within the CBA; absorbing detailed CBA policy development at a high level to contribute thoughtfully to internal deliberations through:

  • Asking questions and seeking clarity
  • Ensuring effective consultation with all implicated parties
  • Considering both proactive and reactive policy activities


Providing a level of expertise and insight in the interpretation of the CBA’s financial reporting that helps to inform the appropriate stewardship of the association’s resources and the allocation of resources to generate the greatest member value by:

  • Asking informed questions at the right level (i.e. not in the operational weeds)
  • Suggesting innovative ways generate non-dues revenue
  • Considering the most effective funding model for sharing revenues across the CBA


Understanding and applying the principles of change management to facilitate systemic and transformational change in an organization.


Advancing strategies that promote equitable access and opportunities. Supporting practices to correct systemic barriers for members of equity-deserving and marginalized communities. Understanding anti-oppressive frameworks, values and norms. Understanding the dynamics of intersectional and inclusion-related conflicts, tensions, misunderstandings or opportunities.

Adapted from “Recruit The Right Board”, Mark Engle, FASAE, CAE and William Brown, 2019