Knowing how to make a board great can be complex, especially when everything is already set in place and has been running for a period of time. That is why here at BoardPro, we have put together a list of things that board members and chairs can do as well as be mindful of to build and facilitate a successful and exceptional board.
Being aware of their scope of duties
Companies should be filled with staff who know exactly what they are doing and why. This is no different for boards. Board members should be aware of their roles and responsibilities without overstepping into duties that aren't theirs. This prevents them from making critical errors that could cause frustration with other people and their respective roles. So with that, it’s essential that board members are clear about their obligations and understand their authority.
Be a leader, not just a manager
A manager controls a portion of the organisation they are part of, whereas a leader is someone who gets involved, guides, and is not afraid of getting their hands dirty. This is done all the whilst moving towards a specific goal. As leaders, it is of utmost importance to know when and how to delegate tasks and innovate and inspire others to be creative when solving problems.
Getting others involved
Listening is a virtue. Top boards not only discuss matters but can grasp onto and appreciate the opinions of their stakeholders. In companies with great boards, this can be seen in general stakeholders having a voice in the company’s strategic direction.
Strategy over operations
Similar to previous points made but in more detail, board members are leaders and have a specific authority. Their duties lay in strategy rather than operations, and they should be aware not to overstep those boundaries. Operations should be left to the competent team of staff members trained in their particular scope to ensure the smooth running of the business.
Renewing the board and planning
Just like presidential terms, highly functioning boards should also have limited terms. But why change a winning team? Studies show that an ideal board consists of new and older board members who have been there for some time. This way, newer board members bring fresh and innovative ideas, whereas older board members bring stability and savoir-faire.
Choosing the right CEO
Perhaps relatively self-explanatory, the right CEO is crucial for a company’s success, and it is up to the board to select the correct person. CEOs should be well informed about the company and lead with passion and empathy. On top of this, CEOs should also have open and honest communication with board members so that a company’s internal and external development can occur.
Keeping up and being open
There is no doubt that under any circumstance, learning and development is of great importance. That's no different for a board. A board needs to be aware of their own learning. Laws, procedures, and governance requirements are constantly changing.
Focusing on the relevant information
“There are only so many hours in a day,” and “time is money,” these phrases have been said and repeated countless times. There's a good reason for it, and there is a way to ensure it. Board meetings should be kept efficient and concise by having members present relevant, accurate information. This needs to be prepared in advance. This way, decisions can be easily made and concluded with sources and reasons backing them.
Teamwork makes the dream work
A successful board comprises people with a similar goal and shared purpose. Although it is normal for disagreements to arise, board members need to be aware of presenting them constructively to be able to tackle the problems successfully. It is crucial for members to view others as colleagues and partners, more than competition or threats. A similar goal and pleasant working environment benefits everyone and makes working together much more pleasant.
Playing the devil's advocate
As much as disagreements might arise, it is essential to bring up challenges in a healthy manner. Board members should be open, honest, transparent and respectful to one another. Challenges should not be seen as a threat but rather an opportunity to change and innovate original practices.
Looking at what has been done and what can be done better is crucial to developing a better board and improving a company. Realistically an internal self-assessment should be carried out every year and externally reviewed every three years. This benefits the board as it allows members to reflect on themselves and pinpoint what needs to be soothed and changed.