Governance is the systematised approach through which organisations are directed, controlled and assured – typically by their Board of Directors, though certainly elements of governance filter down through the organisational hierarchy.

In stripping things back in this book, governance is distinguished from both leadership and management. That is not to say that neither leadership nor management have responsibility for governance. The former may contain aspects of mid-range governance – particularly with regard to the direction of travel for the organisation and its strategic aims and objectives, and the latter may involve ensuring short-term governance through day-to-day control of process and activity and the everyday decisions required to keep an organisation operating efficiently and effectively.

In this chapter, we’ll explore what governance really is and why it’s essential to modern organisations. We’ll also look at the relationship between governance and safety leadership, risk management and personal accountability.