Clay Mathile, Aileron’s Founder, has been pushing Joni Fedders, Aileron President, to “manage your board.” Mark Thompson, an Aileron Business Advisor, also says a version of this when talking with business owners about how to create and improve their board.
What’s prompting Clay and Mark to advise Presidents/CEOs like you to “manage your board”?
Joni believes Clay is prompting her to…
● To lead, not serve. Focus on her needs and the organization’s rather than the needs of the board. You aren’t engaging these individuals to entertain them but to help you process challenges, concerns, ideas and opportunities.
● To have a high level agenda but allow the conversation to roam. This isn’t an exercise in time management and checking items off, it is a conversation where board members have experiences or observations that may lead you to new discoveries.
● To add and excuse members as the needs of the organization change.
● To have a viewpoint. Prior to the board meetings Joni now creates a white paper for the strategic issues to be discussed. This requires Joni to think, clarify and frame the her perspective (half the value is experienced already just preparing) and it provides board members context of the issue and to hear Joni’s point of view.
Mark reminds President/CEOs that…
● It is your company and your board – please don’t lose sight of that. Sometimes, out of respect, CEOs defer too much to their board. The board members are thinking out loud with you, not telling you how to run your company.
● Pay attention to terms and governance – it is important to cycle board members off your board when you begin to consistently anticipate their questions. This is good. It means you understand their perspective and how they tend to think.
● Do not feel that you must answer every question you are asked. Good board members are trying to get you to think and thoughtfully consider different perspectives. Silence is a great way to let them know that you are thinking.
● It is more important to listen and be present in the conversation than taking notes. Engaged energy and dialog is where the magic happens.
● Pay attention to running an effective meeting. Poor logistics and poor meeting management will distract from great dialog.
● Try to relax, breath and enjoy the meeting. A good board is the most constructive accountability that most of us will ever experience. A good board helps the CEO to develop as a leader.
What areas of Joni’s experience or Mark’s thoughts can you relate to? Are you struggling with some of the same? Or are your challenges different?
Based on experiences similar to those described, we recently launched the High Performing Boards program (formerly known as the Outside Boards program). One of the big shifts in the new High Performing Boards program is introducing how you can set a climate (and create a culture) with your board. This empowers you to get the most of your board, including how to maximize your time spent in meetings with them.
How do you set a climate (or create a culture) with your board? It starts with you, and you being conscious of what level of consciousness you’re showing up with to your board meetings.
What level are you managing your board today? Or what level can you operate your board?
Just as a business adapts to shifts in the marketplace, a business owner needs the tools and the right mindset to be able to shift (and evolve) their board so that it best serves the organization—which is what you’ll learn at the High Performing Boards program.