Creating Excellence in Board Leadership

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teams Rather Than Committees - A Better Option

Every board has or uses committees. But, do they feel respected and appreciated? Is their work truly valued in the board leadership context? Historically, having standing committees assigned to a variety of tasks is the traditional path followed for board work. While some of those committees are effective, many serve a mere perfunctory role. Others, led by assertive personalities, have a strong tendency to exercise authority not extended from the board, all in the name of “getting things done.” Still others work hard and bring recommendations to their board, only to have them changed substantially, or disregarded as a bad or untimely idea; in which case the team feels devalued and may begin to disengage.

Using teams creatively can be a much better option.

Boards can be served by sub-teams comprised of their own members or by teams consisting of other people in, or associated with, the organization. Such teams can do research or other forms of “leg-work” for the board. As those teams work they should see themselves bringing options to the board rather than a single recommendation.

A single recommendation finds itself in a precarious position before an assertive board. Unless the board can adopt a team’s recommendation verbatim, changes (some of them wholesale) are inevitable.

Options, on the other hand, allow the board to pick, choose, combine, tweak, modify or change the options. Boards rarely disregard a team’s work when it is presented with a litany of options. In that context the team and its work are always valued. Both groups are served. Further, teams who function under this prescription are rarely tempted to extend themselves beyond their assigned boundaries. Personal agendas are minimized. Everyone wins!

Boards are best served by ad hoc teams. As board-level issues present themselves, giving rise to the need for work by a team, that’s the precise moment one should be appointed using the most gifted people available for the specified need. The role of the team is serve the board; never make decisions in place of the board; or exercise authority not extended from the board. Once a team fulfills its charge it should be disbanded.

Logicboard offers an innovative and highly successful model for board leadership and governance. It brings detail and coaching to the items listed above. Contact us today for more information.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Communication - It Requires Trust!

Everyone talks about the importance of good communication. No marriage, family, organization, staff or board can succeed without it. The better communication becomes the more fertile the setting for achievement. All groups dispense information, throw popular clich├ęs around the room, dole out opinions; even toss a few ideas into the mix. But few enjoy an unencumbered exchange of values or risk the expression of feelings, failures and confession.

The deepest and most constructive forms of communication flourish in an environment of trust. In fact, it can be said that one way to judge the effectiveness of any group, boards in particular, is to observe the level at which communication occurs. High levels of trust encourage stronger forms communication. The more effective communication becomes the more fertile the context for success.

What builds trust at the board level?

Appropriate time and means for orientation – every board member profits here
Social time outside of meetings – learning about one another happens here
Expressing questions and concerns must be encouraged – feelings are linked here
Use sub-team assignments – melding skills here benefits the larger board context
Understand varied personality traits and chemistry – greater wisdom is found here
Periodic evaluation of board performance – ask about trust and acceptance here

Arguably, trust isn’t taught, it’s grown. It is a by-product, a result, an outcome. Don’t expect it to be permanent; it is an illusive commodity that requires constant attention and continual nurturing.

Logicboard offers an innovative and highly successful model for board leadership and governance. It brings detail and coaching to the items listed above. Contact us today for more information.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Does Individual Behavior Play a Role in Board Success?

Indeed it does!

Much like values discussed in the previous blog, every board would be well served by a list of personal behaviors it expects from participating members. Most boards often talk about the importance of trust, transparency and teamwork. But candidly, it’s not much more than an expression of intellectual ascent, albeit genuine. Boards that hold these items in high regard must have assertive means for achieving them.

Trust, transparency and teamwork can be achieved with a list of individual behaviors that provide a leadership culture in which they flourish. Such a list should appear as board policy. Further, every board should have both a formal (an upcoming blog) and informal evaluation process by which it assesses compliance to these behaviors. On an informal basis board members should be self-policing and hold one another accountable to these behaviors at every meeting.

What behaviors should appear on this list? Here’s a starter set. But it must be understood that every board has to custom design a list that serves their culture.

Attendance: except for emergencies or unexpected work assignments, perfect attendance should prevail. Effective teaming is achieved only if every member is present. Attendance records should be visible at every meeting.
Diligent preparation: board members seeking to contribute to agenda work without preparing in advance undermine efforts toward effective teaming. Effectual leadership can be achieved only by making use of the interdependent strengths consistently contributed by every board member.
Enterprising perspective: prepared board members come to each meeting with innovative or creative ideas for achieving the board’s assigned work. Along with these innovative suggestions there must be an overarching spirit of cooperation. Good board members always want what’s best for the organization, never what profits them.

The above list can be expanded with things like confidentiality, consensus, respect, reliability, etc. Just remember, trust is grown while transparency and teamwork are acquired.

Logicboard offers an innovative and highly successful model for board leadership and governance. It brings detail and coaching to the items listed above. Contact us today for more information.
PO Box 5010 Bloomington, IL 61702
Phone:309-275-9734 or 309-287-0834