Bold Boards: The Cause, Community, Confrontation & Coming Together
You know how LinkedIn sends those notifications of a work anniversary, right? Well, unlike Bernard Salt, I actually like those notifications. LinkedIn has become an extended type of virtual office where your colleagues drop by and say, “Hey, well done on your anniversay!” The only thing missing is the cake!
So with the cheerful notification of serving for 7 years, I took matters into my own hands and went to where I know those real life colleagues sometimes gather ‘offline’ – The Newlife Cafe. I come here for a break from my office to write, research and engage.
1. Seek to Know & Understand Each Other
Celebrating 7 years serving on the Board at Newlife Care Ltd I caught up with a few of my fellow Directors here on the Gold Coast at the Newlife Cafe. Sharing coffee, enquiring of each other and laughing about life as they dropped by while I worked away at my laptop surrounded by books and a low-fat Latte!
When you’re working with people who ‘get’ you, every day is as meaningful and joyful as the next, even in the midst of change and hard work. I’ve made it my business to understand them and vice versa.
2. Clarify Why Your Board Exists
Our commitment as a Board to setting strategic direction, clarifying risk and caring enough to confront happens because we know the CAUSE is greater than ourselves. We’ll have the uncomfortable robust conversations without fear, or offence, as we’re on the same side and delight in clarity. It’s one of the reasons we have knitted so well together.
What’s your CAUSE? Discuss the Vision for the next 3 -5 years. If it’s not clear or key roles rotate, let’s identify the risks, and talk about the opportunities and be SMART with your action items and goals. You remember what SMART stands for: Specific, Measureable, Action-focused, Realistic, Timebound
3. Redefining What Confrontation Means
I wasn’t always comfortable with confrontation until in my early 30s I heard a conference speaker called Holly Wagner bring confrontation into a fresh perspective for an audience of 1500 delegates. A new definition opened up that removed fear and kicked ambiguity to the kerb:
Confrontation: “caring enough to confront”
4. How Might Confrontation Play Out?
A deeper level of communication in healthy teams, relationships and boards opens up when we’re bold enough to remark, “I’m not satisfied. Tell me more. What do you mean by? Have you quantified this project? What’s our message to the team, members, stakeholders?”
The format may look different. The agendas may be added to or minutes reviewed and edits put forward by Directors new and old. In established boards this may cause temporary concern because of current longevity and respect for one another.
Isn’t life clearer when we can cut through ‘perceptions’, stand on values, invest in relationships,go to the source if there is doubt or misunderstanding, and have robust conversations even if we squirm a little, and get stuff done? I have been blessed to serve with this Board! Newlife Board Directors have been key influencers for achieving outcomes and setting the tone with #graceandgrit and #robustconversations
5. Navigate the On-Boarding Courtship
(A) For the BOARD in it’s Current Form
Psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s 1965 team dynamics model of: forming, storming, norming and performing highlights the interesting transitions individuals experience as Directors and team members come and go. These phases are later expanded to include ‘adjourning’ or ‘mourning’, when Tuckman worked with Mary Ann Jensen in 1977.
The model continued to evolve with Alasdair A. K. White partnering with John Fairhurst to refine the model as TPR:
- Transforming: grouping forming, storming and norming phases together
- Performance: consolidating performance
- Re-forming: enhancing performance and going beyond the coping and comfort levels
The Chairman of the Board has a key role to play here by guiding the Directors through the shifts that are occurring or may occur, given the change in Directors.
(B) EXISTING DIRECTORS
This is a marketing and personal branding opportunity for you as an individual.
Reach out to incoming or outgoing Directors one on one. Invest the time to KNOW them in this fresh context. How they like to think, work, what support they may need moving into this new season. Share some history and your values
(C.) INCOMING NEW DIRECTORS
This is a marketing and personal branding opportunity for you as an individual as well.
As I step into my 4th new company Board Director role I must remind myself to court the new Directors before the Meetings and pick up the phone for 1:1 calls. It increases understanding, creates a platform for trust to form in this fresh context.
It takes time for existing BOLD BOARDS to reconcile with the different styles and questioning we may bring as newcomers to the table.
I didn’t do that with my new Director colleagues and I wish I had. So how do I make amends? Listen to feedback, check myself, reflect with a mentor, learn from it, value the relationships, don’t over think it and get on with the responsibilities at hand.
(D) AS A WHOLE NEW BOARD
- Extend some grace to each other as you navigate the feel and mix.
- Be interested in understanding the other person.
- Find out what makes each other tick.
This might interest you…
How we ‘relate to others, gather and use information, make decisions and organise ourselves and others” is described as the R.I.D.O Scale in the Margerison and McCann, Team Management Systems “Types of Four Work Preference Measures”. Without background knowledge of each other, new Directors may misread the engagement of others as disrespectful or too detailed oriented.
Yet it is simply different.
The TMS Four Work Preference Measures consider:
- RELATE to others: Extrovert versus Introvert
- gather and use INFORMATION: Practical versus Creative
- make DECISIONS: Analytical or Belief Based
- and ORGANISE ourselves and others: Structured or Flexible
If you’d like to find out more about these TMS Profiles and the accompanying 4-6 hour Debrief Program, contact our team on firstname.lastname@example.org
Let’s face it, change is always going to inadvertently ruffle a few feathers. That’s why having people committed to the CAUSE will draw us together beyond the initial forming and storming phases if our experiences and approaches shakeup established meeting and reporting patterns.
Refocus on the VISION with a CALL TO ACTION and SHARED COMMUNICATION
6. Bold Boards Continue to Evolve
Every leadership team from the C-Suite to the Board Room, can benefit from developing a Terms of Reference for their Meetings, and revisiting these as a standing agenda item. Some may say this idea is not ‘high level’ enough or ‘too detailed’. Conversely this framework reminds us of why we are here and that we have an obligation to ask the tough questions, pursue clarity and document them accordingly.
Why? Because it isn’t actually about us or anyone person. This is a legacy of decision-making and the rationale behind, that will impact your stakeholders and the company operations. Don’t be afraid of the detail.
Those 6 points for Bold Boards – The Cause, Community, Confrontation & Coming Together are:
- Seek to Know & Understand Each Other
- Clarify Why Your Board Exists
- Redefine What Confrontation Means
- How Might Confrontation Play Out?
- Navigate the On-Boarding Courtship
- Bold Boards Continue to Evolve
Getting Down to Business and Maintaining the Strategic Perspective
There is no place for fear or offence, when the CAUSE is greater than ourselves. Diligence demands we encourage BOLD BOARDS; not at the expense of relationships rather BECAUSE of the importance of them.
We’ve got your back, so let’s move forward!
Thank You LinkedIn, Newlife Care and Those Who Stopped By to Celebrate!
Thank you! I hope you have the opportunity to contribute, learn and stretch through serving as a Board Director.
It is a privilege to be trusted with Directorship, ruffling my feathers means I’m growing in my character and capability and maybe, just maybe, making a difference.
#Boards #Governance #intentional #leadership #diversity #transparency #robustconversations #caringenoughtoconfront #graceandgrit #unity #sandpaperministry #LinkedIn #bernardsalt #Executives #C-SuiteMeetings #qualityassurance #DueDiligence #Directors #thealphabetprinciplebook #tarrandeane