From good to great in the Boardroom
As a boardroom team, would you say you’re good? And is that ‘good’ as in good at what you do or as in good enough? Whether good, bad or indifferent, any team should at least aspire to be great (who really hopes to be ‘adequate’ one day?) But for a boardroom team in today’s volatile and ambiguous world, it’s all too easy to wander off track, become over-focused on the day to day minutiae and lose sight of the bigger leadership picture. It’s also difficult (maybe even disingenuous) to expect great performance and teamwork from the rest of the organisation if you’re not role-modelling it from the top…
What makes a great boardroom team?
How do you know a great boardroom team when you see one (or are part of one)? Expect it to show some or all of the following traits:
- Clarity on role – It’s easy to get sidetracked into management, but a board’s role focuses on governance, strategy, financial guidance and stakeholder interests.
- Open to input – Inviting and considering input from outside the board not only increases the information and options the board has to work with but also indicates a transparency of operation which goes a long way to building trust across an organisation. This includes the recruitment and management of appropriate non-executive directors.
- Encourage conflict – Not for the sake of it but to engage with different perspectives and viewpoints, invite fresh opinions and insights, and make the most of the knowledge, skills and experience present. Avoiding conflict results in a false harmony that acts to suppress innovation and new thinking.
- Decision-making criteria – Not everyone will be happy with every board decision, hence the value of an objective, agreed set of criteria; a decision-making process based on clear organisational and business priorities.
- Sufficient time is devoted to boardroom activities – A few years ago, a McKinsey report found that members of high-performing boards spend around twice as much time on board business compared to medium or low-performing teams.
- An effective chair – The chair role is critical to the board’s operation, setting tone, direction and even culture.
Leadership is critical
A Forbes article from 2016 outlined the factors leaders of high-performing teams have in common. Naturally, these factors apply to a board chair, but also extend to every member of the board, given that the board itself has a role in leading the organisation. The key leadership points are:
- Influence and inspire – Use attractive and desirable common goals to motivate.
- Conflict resolution – Conflict may be welcomed for its alternative viewpoints but that conflict must be resolved, or at least harnessed, in order to be beneficial.
- Challenging goals – As big pictures go, the board should have the biggest; and that should be reflected in stretching goals for the organisation.
- Vision and direction – Again, clarity is required for both the organisation’s goals and how they are communicated.
- Trust – Not only the necessity to trust the team and organisation but also to be trusted by the organisation (much more challenging!)
Of course, this post just scratches the surface of boardroom performance; whets the appetite. If, in these times of uncertainty and complexity, you’re interested in enhancing and supporting your board, our standard workshop – Moving from good to great in the Boardroom – is now available in remote working-friendly webinar form and can be tailored to suit the specific needs of your team of directors. Give us a call on 01582 463465 – we’re always happy to help!