What makes a truly successful board? There’s no doubt that some boards perform their duties more effectively, and with more impressive results, than others.
What stands these boards apart from their less successful counterparts?
While every board is different, there are a few factors and traits that are common to boards that work well. We look at what those are – and how you can adopt them to take your board to the next level.
- A strategic focus
Strategy should be the very essence of the board. But too frequently, boards get side-tracked by operational detail, to the detriment of the strategic decisions they should be making.
If you want to refocus your board on the big picture, our blog looking at how to build a more strategic board might be a useful read.
- The ability to lead – not necessarily manage
Boards of directors should lead the organisation; they don’t need to micro-manage it. Your organisation should have good people in place to manage and your board should trust them to get on with it.
Leadership means guiding the business to the right approach, and leaving the experts within the firm to execute your plans.
- A focus on good governance
Corporate governance is – or should be – a major priority for any board. Those that stand out are the boards that give due weight to the importance of governance, ensuring that their organisations are run along compliant, ethical lines.
With the new Corporate Governance Code coming into effect from next month, it’s an opportune time to revisit your own approach. Ask yourselves whether your board should be more proactive on governance.
- A transparent approach
Closely related to the question of good governance, transparency is an increasingly-valued corporate trait. Whether it’s the voting procedures you use to make decisions or the choices your board makes on remuneration, being able to evidence an honest approach is key.
- The best mix of people
The best boards have a good mix of members. While successful directors tend to share some attributes, the importance of diversity in the boardroom is well recognised, whether that means gender diversity or ensuring that other groups are represented.
What’s the composition of your board? Does it have the ideal mix of perspectives?
A report recently identified the four leadership personas driving success today. Are these personas represented on your board? Should they be?
- The appropriate level of debate
Your board should be a forum to discuss the key issues facing your organisation – somewhere where informed decisions are made as the result of constructive debate. Make sure you have the right level of debate among your directors and you will help your board to make better choices.
Having a good Chair can be invaluable here, with the Chair’s role central to encouraging all viewpoints and shaping the discussion to deliver conclusions.
- The information needed to inform support decisions
Your board’s debate has to be underpinned by accurate, comprehensive information.
Making important choices about the organisation’s future demands that your board members are well-prepared for meetings. They should be furnished with all the information they need, while avoiding information overload.
- The right technology
Today, there’s no shortage of technology to support your board. Digitalisation has been embraced by directors as it has elsewhere in business.
One of the reasons for the boardroom’s rapid digitalisation has been the recognition that it can benefit everybody involved – the company secretary or administrator who has to assemble the packs; the director who is the end user.
Whether it’s using a board portal to give directors access to your board papers, or digitalising other aspects of your meetings, the right technology – robust, secure, user-friendly – can have a positive impact on your efficiency.
- Regular and effectively-run meetings
The best boards have regular and well-orchestrated meetings. Don’t meet for meeting’s sake: the best meetings have a clear purpose, use their time effectively, avoid over-using terminology and jargon and have accurate, comprehensive outputs.
- Best practice processes
Effective boards adopt best practice wherever they can to give them the competitive edge. Our recent series of blogs on implementing best practice has some useful tips on:
- How to ensure your board members are well prepared for meetings…
- …While avoiding information overload
- How to give your meetings the purpose they need to be effective, and
- How best practice chairing can make them run more efficiently
Build a better board for your organisation
These 10 things hopefully provide a start point for any organisation wanting to create a more successful board.
Want to read more about why successful boards are increasingly turning to digital solutions to enhance their efficiency and support their members in making the best decisions? If so, you can download a copy of our Board Portal FAQs. They answer a lot of the frequently-asked questions about board portals, and you can get a free copy from our resource library.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.