A number of factors impact the effectiveness of your board – which consequently has a direct and significant impact on the performance of your business.
An effective board leads to a high-performing business, yet the board, and director development, is often one of the least invested areas in an organisation. Individuals will often be appointed to the role of a director without a suitable ‘induction’ to either the role or the board, with the result that their potential to deliver at a strategic level is often sub-optimal.
Of course, having directors with a complementary set of competencies is critical to success. Equally, so is the ability for directors to work collectively and constructively to make the best use of those competencies.
Over the last 30 years Alan Wilson and the Strategy Matters team have worked to help develop both the competency of individual directors and their boards using a range of techniques including competency assessments, psychometrics facilitated board events, collective board effectiveness reviews and individual coaching.
The first such undertaking was for an international hotel chain, where Alan was challenged by the CEO who believed that his board were effective. A simple exercise resulted in the CEO changing his mind, and it’s one you can repeat in your next board meeting.
Simply ask each board member to write down what the top 4 strategic objectives are for the business in the next 6-12 months. Back in 1990 this particular board of a very large global hotel chain returned a total of 16 different top 4 objectives. In other words, the board were not aligned – therefore the business could not possibly be focused on the strategic objectives. And that disarray at board level was reflected in the business results at that time.
Whether you’re an executive or non-executive director, you need to be aware of your legal duties (in the UK the seven duties are outlined in the Corporate Governance Act 2016 and apply to private, public and not-for-profits).
But you also need to ask yourself two simple questions, which will help to give an indication of the effectiveness of your board:
1. Does the culture of the board encourage honest, open debate even on contentious issues?