Just like a child, companies take a village to run efficiently. This raises a need for boardrooms. For any board to be effective, it needs to have a strong capable leader.
A board is the wing of a company because it deals mostly with the future. While other stakeholders may only see the next fiscal year, the board looks at the opportunities and threats that potentially lie beyond that fiscal year. The board needs to be able to see the island beyond the iceberg. This ensures the company remains a going concern. The board deals with the what of the company’s future while the executive leadership and staff deal with the how. Here are a few strategies of boardroom leadership.
Manage Group Dynamic
People are different. Nature and nurture will always influence mindset and temperament. This may often make it hard for people to agree on issues. The responsibility falls on the board’s chair to ensure the board, though comprised of very different people, runs in harmonious symphony. This task calls for creativity, intelligence, and wisdom. The idea of a wisdom circle comes to mind. This is a group of trusted people with which one can confer on sensitive matters that require a combined brain power. To tighten the band, the board chair may talk to each member of the board individually and find out how they can make them fit in better. Once all the data is consolidated, the chair can then find a comfortable balance for everyone.
Board meetings may just be an item on the calendar to get past. There is, however, no reason why the board chair should not turn it into a more beneficial exercise. The chair should listen more and talk less. It is through conversations and arguments that one can get new ideas and maybe even get solutions to potential problems. By speaking less the chair encourages participation from other members. This allows for inclusive decision making. Other members are also compelled to follow his example and respect everyone’s contribution and opinions. This way, the new or less seasoned members do not get intimidated into swallowing all their fresh ideas.
A board needs to have in-depth knowledge of the company and its operations. It is also important that they do research into new and upcoming trends in the market. This will help start useful conversations in the boardroom. Having vast knowledge of the business also allows the board chair to use his casting vote wisely and effectively. The research, done independently, will give an indication as to what kind of ideas might be feasible for the company.
A board that is in constant pursuit of success and effectiveness will conduct regular self-assessment to gauge their performance. A newly elected chair should go through all the old assessment reports. This is in a bid to learn about the challenges and issues faced by the boards formed and their heads. The remedies applied may also prove useful to current issues and challenges. By adding the information on the reports to his/her arsenal of knowledge, a board chair is assured that history will not repeat itself and if it does, there is a solution ready in hand.
Relationship with the Executive Director
This is an extremely important relationship. The dynamic of this relationship might be the undoing of the company’s future or it might be a valuable asset. The board chair does not run the company, he runs the board. This is a very important distinction that should influence every interaction he has with the staff and ED. A board chair should know that his job is to look beyond the forest while the executive director looks among the trees. A good board chairperson supports the Executive Director. He asks questions that start conversations rather than those that put the Director on the defensive. This relationship ensures that the appropriate communication channels are adhered to. The staff and Executive Director get concerns to the board through the chair and the board gets its ideas to the personnel through the Executive Director. It is important for communication to flow easily between the two parties. This keeps the surprises at a minimum, as it should be.
A board chair does not know everything. One should keep this in mind before jumping into corporate governance. In this respect, a good board chair will allow room for the ideas of everyone else. Boardroom leadership is a democracy. Most importantly, the opportunity to lead a boardroom is a privilege. The board chair should, therefore, respect everyone regardless of their post in the company. This makes their responsibilities easier to handle and tenure smooth running.
Originally published on Linkedin Pulse
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Fernando Ortiz-Barbachano is CEO & President of Barbachano International (BIP) the Human Capital Solutions leader in Mexico, Latin America and the USA offering high-impact executive search, executive coaching and outplacement. Directly and through our partners, we have offices in Mexico, USA, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Uruguay, and Ecuador. Corporate offices are in San Diego, California. firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone: 619-427-2310.