Creating Excellence in Board Leadership

Monday, November 30, 2009

Board Chair - Key to Board Success

Without question, the board chair is a major success factor. Communication, consensus building, strategic agendas, management of meeting time, accountability for team assignments, integrity with board policies can fall victim to an unskilled or unprepared chair.

What things contribute to an effective chair?

Good boards maintain an annual agenda, the contents of which drive the regular meeting agendas. The chair should:

  1. Check the annual agenda for direction and priorities
  2. In formatting the regular meeting agenda stick to the priorities
    Approve minutes first
    Executive reporting and board policy work should be next
    Board education, future meeting dates, correspondence, etc should always be last
    Reject items that are not board-level issues
  3. Distribute the agenda 7-14 days in advance with directive comments and/orcoaching
    Highlight items that will receive special emphasis
    Provide encouragement for advanced preparation
    Note subjects or items where caution and concern should be given

Advance communication with the chief staff person is strongly suggested. The chair should:

  1. Remind or inform the chief staff person of required reporting
  2. Gauge the readiness of the reporting
  3. Inquire about any breach of board policy since the board last meeting
  4. Gain staff insight into the agenda items

Personal preparation is critical. The chair should:

  1. Check board minutes for accuracy prior to the meeting
  2. Start meetings on time regardless
  3. Anticipate those prone to dominate board discussion and commit to limits
  4. Seek input from every board member on every item
  5. Rephrase where clarity is needed
  6. Reject additions to the agenda immediately before or during the meeting
  7. Keep agenda items within scheduled time allotments
  8. Provide a proactive voice of confidence, encouragement, direction and decision
  9. Seek and ask for consensus on decision items
  10. At the conclusion of the meeting, never ask, “Is there any other business”

Adjourn on time.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fatigue in the Boardroom

It happens more often than many board members want to admit. Most can stay focused and energized for 2-3 hours, but when agendas spill across an entire day fatigue is inescapable for the majority. When it arrives its subtle. A temptation to pull out the iPhone, Blackberry or Droid and check for new emails; a three minute brain-freeze and subsequent stare, after which there is a sudden awareness of no comprehension for what just transpired; a impulsive urge to get up and pace the room; a slight sense of irritability presents itself; a mental disconnect; finally and uncontrollably, eyelids fall shut.

What can be done to minimize boardroom fatigue?

1. Light in the room must be bright
2. Temperature on the cool side
3. Chairs must be padded and comfortable
4. Ample space in the room and between attendees
5. Video equipment with a high degree of lumens so dimming lights is unnecessary
6. Breaks for restroom, stretching, and refreshments every two hours
7. Board members who are well prepared and maintain an enterprising perspective
8. Humor that is encouraged but controlled
9. Chairperson who:
a. Manages the agenda assertively
b. Solicits input from every board member on every agenda item
c. Readily summarizes discussion and seeks consensus
d. Limits repeated input from those prone to dominate
e. Keeps agenda items within scheduled time limits
f. Maintains ready recall of board policies
g. Praises achievement demonstratively

While there are no means for eliminating fatigue, the above items can be of great assistance. Try them soon. Improvement should come quickly.

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