A fresh approach to Board Reviews - supporting Marathon Health strive for excellence


Marathon Health is a not-for-profit, registered charity and one of only a few multi-site health services offering multiple disciplines in country Australia. Its core purpose is to identify, deliver and sustain services for people in these regional communities, enabling them to thrive through improved health and wellbeing.

Marathon Health is committed to high quality service delivery and continuous improvement. This attitude extends to both its Board performance and the effectiveness of its individual Board Directors. Following a competitive process, it was this commitment that saw Marathon Health, enlist Leadership Space to assist in their recent Board review.

As the Chair explains:

“It was important to the Board to have a partner for this work who understood our business and aligned with the values of Marathon Health. Leadership Space was strong on both fronts.”

Our journey together

Marathon Health had two clear expectations from its Governance review: to evaluate the Board through external feedback from stakeholders; and to establish an evaluation process to support decision-making regarding the re-election of Directors.

Leadership Space worked with the Board to survey, interview and compile the insights of Marathon Health Board’s stakeholders, informed by our unique Board Team Review approach. This approach departs from traditional Board reviews providing a fresh alternative to traditional Board evaluation.

Leadership Space CEO, Elise Sernik shares:

“Our work with Not-for-Profit Boards over the past decade has highlighted the importance of providing Chairs and Directors with a collaborative and strengths-based approach. This moves the focus from Board Evaluation to Board Development. It provides Boards with the data they need, and supplements it with processes, tools and expertise that enables insight-driven growth and change.”

Our work with the Marathon Health Board involved collaborating on a set of development goals and then collecting and collating data from Board members and key stakeholders. Through a series of tailored surveys and interviews designed around our Board Team framework, we provided guidance on development opportunities for the Board, so they could prioritise where change could have maximum impact and how they could start implementing it.

We used the same Framework for individual Director reviews, enabling the group to gain insight into how the individual contributions of Directors were supporting the effectiveness of the Board as a whole. Debrief sessions were held with each Director to support their professional development and in a three-way discussion with the Board Chair to ensure transparency and shared understanding.

With all parties now holding a robust and balanced perspective of the opportunities, we facilitated a session with the Board to reflect on their results and move forward as a team. That session provided an opportunity to re-visit and gain clarity on their understanding of their role as a Board and how they could best support the CEO and senior executive team. It was also an opportunity to strengthen their connections and understanding of each other. For additional value, each Director undertook a leadership profile using our leadership assessment tool, Lumina Spark, creating a common language and a richer understanding of their leadership diversity.

Visible, sustainable impact

Through our strengths-based Board Team Development approach, we supported Marathon Health Board to continue to grow as a cohesive team that is working towards common goals, while leveraging individual member strengths. The Board was able to build a true and accurate picture of what was – or wasn’t – present in their governance process and internal functioning and, most critically, the degree to which the Board and Directors were meeting the needs and expectations of stakeholders, including the CEO, senior executives, government, and the wider community.

Through our process, they identified their areas of strength and opportunity. They reaffirmed their commitment to considering Board recruitment carefully, taking the time to get the right people – with complementary knowledge and skills – in roles that serve to strengthen the Board. They are lifting their sights and staying focused on governance over operational matters. Individually, Board members have built their confidence to continue growing into their roles and strengthening their skills.

The responsively paced eight-month journey has enabled and empowered the Board to reflect and understand how, together, they can create the greatest value for Marathon Health and the communities it serves. Developing their sense of self-agency has strengthened their power to act and go forward as the Board they want to be and to reach the expectations of what they see for themselves.

We feel incredibly privileged to have guided this process with the Marathon Health Board, who showed great courage in taking themselves to the next level. With the strength of this process supporting them, we can’t wait to see how Marathon Health, led by their talented CEO and executive team, elevates its work with communities across NSW.

"We engaged Leadership Space to undertake an evaluation of our Board and Directors as part of our Board health check and a broader review of our corporate governance framework. They respectfully understood and addressed our needs, challenged our views, shared their knowledge and expertise of not-for-profit governance, and workshopped with the Board towards opportunities for growth as a team and clarifying our Board’s role.

Our experience was extremely positive, and Marathon Health would recommend Leadership Space to other organisations looking for robust review of their corporate governance and Board culture."

Annette Crothers
Chair, Marathon Health

If you resonate with the story of Marathon Health and would like to talk to us, please reach out at or call 0400 405 323. We’d love to connect.


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