Do not proceed beyond this point
Each of us has a talent and interest in at least one area of subject matter expertise. It may be finance, law, strategy, risk, client engagement, sustainability or others.
Know what you bring to the table.
Whilst all directors are equally liable, it may be your role to monitor debate in your area of expertise and develop the Board's overall understanding and ability to make informed decisions in that area. (Beware though the specialist trap - every specialist must learn to be a 'specialist-generalist' and contribute across all domains) .
A critical requirement for healthy board functioning is knowing how to work in a team where robust discussion is valued, curiosity encouraged and having reached a decision, egos parked. Often this factor, if missed, is what brings many boards undone. Eventually it is how we work together to arrive at the best decision. Knowing how to work in a team starts with knowing oneself. From self-knowledge one can extend to understanding others.
Supervision is a key attribute of any good board and so directors should display the qualities that make this happen in a constructive way. As a colleague once said, it is Noses In and Fingers Out (NIFO). Supervision is how we understand what is required and determine if this occurred and can redirect the executive in achieving this if they have fallen short. Mature supervision must transcend accountability to focus on supporting management to succeed. Boards should see their role as helping but not doing, (NIFO). The lead indicators for agility within an organisation are its resilience and adaptability. Learning to move forward requires the executive to pick themselves up after falling. Good boards should rarely have to intervene, great directors should be invested in equipping their executive with wisdom, guidance and a measure of forgiveness. The latter should be about what have we learnt and how do we take this wisdom forward?
High performing directors understand that their purpose is serving others. In order to help we must first learn how to serve.
They also understand that taking the time to acquire the basic board credentials is another important step. For this I recommend a program in governance at either the Global Governance Initiative (GGI) or the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
If this basic requirement is not met then our advice is do not proceed beyond this point.
Posted by Dale Simpson