A few weeks ago, we were all subjected to the spectacle of trustees and staff battling each other for occupation of the of the offices of the Notting Hill Carnival Trust. For most voluntary organisations it will have been a sad talking point. Who will fund a body that has been at the centre of such a row?

But for a few organisations, it will have hit a little closer to home, with a little more of a sense of "There but for the grace ...

For there are few things that can cripple an organisation more effectively than a big falling out between staff and trustees.

So the new edition of the Leading the Organisation: The Relationship Between Chairs and Chief Executives from the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations couldn't be more timely. Its message is that problems such as the ones that have beset the carnival are avoidable.

It all comes down to good communication: a proper, explicit definition of roles, the correct induction and training of trustees, and adequate procedures for dealing with disagreements.

What makes the book particularly useful is the practical tools; model job descriptions, a role analysis which chairs and chief executive should complete jointly, and checklists for lots of issues.

Working through them could help to prevent a lot of heartache. And remember, once you have a problem, it will be too late.

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