What it Takes for Effective Boardroom Leadership

Effective boardroom leadership comes when board members work as a team and execute a more active role in the best interests of the business, rather than simply overseeing shareholder investments. It means looking forward to the future for opportunities that lie ahead, adapting your business strategy and showing stakeholders and those within your organisation that you are open to change, all while acknowledging your accountability.

Recruiting diverse board members that have a wide range of expertise and knowledge is just one part of an effective board. Unless members are able to work together then it is unlikely that board meetings will be beneficial and instead hours will be wasted and opportunities missed.

Boardroom best practice can be characterised by a number of factors:

  • An understanding of the role of the board
  • A shared business vision
  • Constructive discussion and debate
  • An open, trusting and supportive environment
  • Challenging the status-quo

These best practice behaviours are successfully implemented when your board environment allows for it. This means cultivating a boardroom culture that is balanced, open and transparent.

Your board’s leadership, whether effective or ineffective will be felt by all within your organisation and it will be clear to stakeholders. If your board is ineffective, it can hinder your business’s growth and damage your reputation, so it’s important to make changes where necessary for your business to succeed. Effective leadership will enhance your competitive edge.

What makes effective boardroom leadership?

Your board should be transparent and encourage views and opinions from each board member, without fear of repercussion or boardroom politics such as power games. An engaging debate that challenges ideas will ensure that your board will have explored all considerations thoroughly, both negative and positive. Without this dynamic, your business will suffer, so it’s vital to encourage all members of the board to engage in a balanced, respectful discussion.

It’s important for your board to recognise the knowledge and expertise of each member even if that expertise does not come from their current role, and call on them for their input, rather than leave decision-making to those whose current role offers expertise in the subject matter. Each board member can bring something to the table and the more diverse a board is, the more expertise there will be in a variety of areas, which will be beneficial for your business.

If a board consists of people with strong personalities who tend to dominate, that can be destructive, because it does not allow for other board members to assert their views. Board members will often remain quiet on particular issues if it is known that one individual has a strong opinion and is not open to hearing the views of others. The can result in the business strategy becoming stagnant. It’s a common problem for businesses where one or more persons tend to dominate discussions, but if you can encourage a more open debate and probe those who are often quiet, it can help generate more ideas and critical issues will be dealt with more effectively, leading to a business strategy that adapts to change.

It is important to have minutes of board meetings that clearly and succinctly outline the debate at Board level, with measurable actions to follow up on. This means that each member has a clear view of what is expected and they can be held accountable if they do not deliver. Effective minute-taking ensures that board meetings are not wasted, but instead are a tool for progression.

Effective boardroom leadership is built on the foundation of what matters most to the business: values, vision and culture. With these in mind, a dynamic and diverse board that encourages discussion and debate, can effectively lead your business to long-term   success.

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