Many people with experience working on non-profit and corporate boards can tell you how to spot a failing board: warring egos, poor coordination, and detachment from their organization’s interests are all-too-recognizable signs of a dysfunctional board.
But boards that work well often seem to do so effortlessly. So what’s the secret? There is no magic bullet that will solve all of a board’s problems overnight, but here are four lessons that can be learned from some of the world’s most successful boards.
It might seem obvious that a successful board is one whose members show up, but director attendance is actually a common problem for boards of all sizes.
One of the reasons for this is the global nature of modern business. Many directors travel frequently, and may not be based in the same city as the company headquarters. While it isn’t always possible for directors to make it to every meeting, it is important to adopt tools that can help keep absent directors in the loop so they can stay engaged with board business.
Good Communication Practices
No board can guide an organization without a regular flow of accurate data, and no director can discharge their duties without the help and input of their peers. Good communications protocols that provide directors with reliable information and make networking easy are key for an empowered and active board.
Portal software makes it easy for board managers to distribute information in a timely and efficient manner, and provides directors with a suite of tools for collaborating. If you want communication solutions that don’t make you choose between security and convenience, visit Aprio to learn more about how portal software can help.
A Strong Sense of Vision
No organization can last long without a strong sense of vision. One of a board’s primary duties is to serve as the guardian of that vision, keeping the organization on course and enforcing executive accountability to the stakeholders and the wider community.
Finally, effective boards understand that steering and directing an organization requires a wide range of different skills and personalities, and for that reason sees board diversity as a strength.
For example, boards that look only for members who are well connected in the business world can find themselves lacking in the specific financial expertise often needed to provide adequate oversight of a company’s finances. In the long term, this can seriously impair a board’s capacity for creative problem solving, and can hamper a board’s ability to keep the executive accountable.
Ultimately, the success of a board is judged by the success of the organization as a whole. If a board is performing well, this will translate into better performance across the entire company. Conversely, an incommunicative board or one that is riven with infighting will have a serious impact on the overall health of the enterprise.
If you want to emulate the boards of the most successful companies worldwide, a great place to start is by encouraging regular attendance, good communication practices, a clear vision, and a diversified set of skills. As your board becomes better able to operate as a team, its capacity to respond to problems creatively and provide effective governance will expand as well.