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.
PO Box 5010 Bloomington, IL 61702
Phone:309-275-9734 or 309-287-0834