When it comes to effectively running an organization, staffing it with the right people is the most crucial of all endeavors. However, not far behind is establishing a productive Board of Directors. It’s not enough to simply throw a group of diverse, intelligent individuals into a room and call them a board. In order to effectively govern, a board must be comprised of people who share a common vision, who are comfortable engaging in candid and respectful debates, and who can work well together for the betterment of the company. There must be a positive culture interwoven throughout the group, one which is focused on productivity and on tackling even the most difficult challenges.
Here are a few steps you should take to ensure that your board is far more than a group of people who merely “work well with others.”
1. Meet Regularly: It’s been said that boards do not keep their problem-solving muscles toned unless they are regularly exercised. With this in mind, establish a regular schedule of board meetings and stick to them, even when there are no pressing matters to discuss.
2. Encourage Vigorous Discussions: Nothing is less productive than a board that agrees on everything. It falls to the board Chair and Executive Director to encourage debate. Differences of opinion should be welcomed and encouraged. After all, the ability to negotiate and arrive at an agreement is key to a successful board.
3. Hold Everyone Accountable: For members of a board to trust each other, there must be no appearance of unethical behavior or impropriety. Board members must be careful to avoid any perceived or actual conflicts of interest.
4. Value Measurement: That which does not get measured does not get done. Thus, each board member – and the board as a unit – must be willing to measure their own performance and effectiveness and then take action if necessary.
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