The Board that Everyone Wants April 5, 2007 Janet Frood, CPCC Suzanne McDonald Aziz, President, Horizon Leadership Executive Director, Coaching & Consulting Brescia University College Foundation Session Motivators • Roll up our sleeves & get something done • High energy & interactive session • Real scenarios supported by articles and survey • Tangible actions towards building a “best board” Janet Frood, CPCC www.horizonleadership.ca Board Experience • First Board at 19, continuous since then • Social service, museum, charitable foundations and professional associations “Best Board” Experiences • Bereaved Families (passion) • Children’s Museum (camaraderie, great plan, collective commitment) Suzanne McDonald Aziz Board Experience • Corporate, public affairs & government relations – fund raising • Served on several boards from the United Way of London - to the Centre for Philanthropy Board – local, provincial and national “Best Board” Experiences • United Way of London (first board and welcoming) • Alumni Association Board (mission driven and staffed to perfection) High Performing & Sustainable Teams Productivity & Positivity Factors Trust 9.0 Productivity Team Leadership Respect Positivity 8.0 7.0 Resources 6.0 Camaraderie 5.0 4.0 Decision Making 3.0 Communication 2.0 1.0 Proactive Constructive Interaction Accountability Values Diversity Goals & Strategies Optimism Alignment Models of Good Corporate/Board Governance • Clarity in the respective roles of the board, individual board members and the Executive Director • Agreement on organizational values, mission and objectives • Respect for organizational norms and board decisions • Good board development practices • Regular assessment of the board • Consensus or near-consensus decision-making Signs a Board May be In Trouble Exercise: - Read the following factors. - Rate your board on a scale of 1 to 5: 1 (not an issue) ..... 5 (a major challenge) 1. Human Resources • Rapid turnover of CEO/ED • Major turnover of board members • Difficulty recruiting good board members 2. Financial & Organizational Performance • Chronic planned or unplanned deficits • Rapid depletion of reserve funds • Call for outside audit or operational review by funders or other key stakeholders • Persistent failure to meet individual or organizational performance targets 3. Meetings • Poor attendance at board and committee meetings • Low level of participation in discussions at meetings • Meetings poorly managed; lack of focus, agendas circulated late, members unprepared 4. Board Culture • Underground communications • Distrust – board, ED & board • Poor communications • Unresolved conflicts • Conflict of interest • Board disengagement • Insiders & outsiders on the board 5. Decision Making • Rubber stamping of decisions by Chair or ED • Preoccupations with operations – not big picture issues • Board interference in operations • Poor communications • Decision making paralysis • Board member ignoring board policies • ED ignoring board policies Board Action Plan • What is your Board’s major challenge? • If lots of challenges -- What 3 actions will you take to shift to a stronger, more productive Board culture. • If a high performing Board, what 3 actions will you take to sustain and nurture your Board culture Best Board Survey Survey Scope • Surveyed 25 people, 10 questions Survey Results • 73% women, 27% men • 60% of respondents ages 40 to 60 • 60% have worked on 1-5 boards • 96% live in London Survey Questions • What was your best Board experience? Why? What was your worst Board experience? Why? • How important were the following factors when you think of your “best board” experience? (25 factors noted) • What other factors other than those listed were important to your “best Board” experience? • Select your top FIVE factors you think are the most important for a “best Board” experience. (25 factors) • Based on your perception, what are the “best Boards” in our community? Why? • Before joining a Board what do you want to know? Best Board Descriptors Words most commonly used to describe a best board experience included: • Board education, meetings with purpose, personal growth, focused agendas, great leadership, strategic, visionary, accountability, trust, respect, passion, people engaged, good process, like minded & committed people, talents maximized, good governance, positive debate, fantastic staff support, well informed, thoughtful recruitment, progressive thinking, quality improvement, everyone participates, learn new things, appreciated and valued, diversity of issues, efficient, meaningful roles, Worst Board Descriptors Words used to describe worst board experiences included: • Poor attendance & lack of quorum, avoid tough questions, political, poor leadership (staff & chair), ambiguity, passive, no value add, mismanagement, no succession planning, opinions not welcome, lack of respect, “names” only board, no clear governance, fundraising only, lack of mission clarity, indifference, poor decision making, rubber stamping, people on too long, broken trust, members are bums in seats, Perception – Best Boards in our Community • United Way - 3 • London Community Foundation - 3 • Boys and Girls Club - 2 • Big Sisters - 2 • Hospital boards - 2 • Foundation Western/UWO – 2 • Fanshawe College - 2 Get curious – what do they do that we need to learn from? Before joining any Board, I want to know…. • Strategic plan, mission & vision • Why you want me • Expectations, role clarity, term of appointment • Commitments of time and money • Challenges and opportunities • Organizational reputation • Financial status • CEO/ED – their competence & record • Who’s on board and their qualifications • References from past board members • Compelling cause – does it move me? Survey -- Major Themes • Clarity of roles & expectations • Leadership – Chair & ED • Efficiency • Vision and direction • Clarity of communication • Passion & commitment to the cause Practical Ideas for Best Boards Clarity of Board Roles & Responsibilities • Have role descriptions for Board and committee members – review & update annually • Be clear and transparent about expectations & accountability • Clear expectation of ED & staff roles within context of Board and committees • Orient new members effectively • Create mentors to support new members, help them navigate • Evaluate member and board performance annually • If expectations not fulfilled, address proactively • Lead by example – create consistency of expectation • Acknowledge and thank to reinforce great performance in roles and in fulfilling responsibilities Leadership – Chair & CEO • Declare specific objectives and goals at start of term; provide updates and accountability • Leadership through example • Clear and focused in leading meetings • Open listener who engages all voices • Clear decision making framework that is consistently applied • Clear expectations regarding meeting attendance, participation, accountability • Provide motivation and inspiration to others • Willingness to be open and engage others in process • Genuine and authentic in building relationships • Proactively connect with members, build rapport Efficiency of Meetings • Focused agenda • Cause connector – compelling reason for work • Strategic focus – agenda structured in alignment with strategic plan • Committees do the work and bring recommendations • Set consistent schedule, honour time, be on time, set time limits for agenda items • Expectation – send packages and all materials in advance, everyone comes prepared • Briefing memos to support recommendations and decision making Strategic Plan & Clarity of Vision • Clarity of focus and direction • Consistently guide meetings in relation to plan • Decision making framework to support it • Clarity of Board and staff role in advancing the plan • Create a work plan for board to support and monitor progress of the plan • Clear benchmarks and success factors that board reviews regularly. Members passion & commitment to the cause • Recruit people who have a passion for the cause – they are more likely to really engage • Orientation is key – provide compelling information that will become the driver of the members work • Continuous education – make it real, experiential • Get members to declare their passion for the cause – what moves them? What’s their soap box? • Board session to develop collective team passion and essence for their commitment to cause • Reinforce passion and cause at each meeting – “Cause Connectors” at each board or committee meeting Communication • One to one – personalized when you can • Information with a purpose – link to strategic plan, trends, issues awareness • Prepare members appropriately to make decisions • Share successes, not just challenges • Connect and involve in between meetings Responsibilities of Staffing a Board • CEO invests time in Board engagement and management • One to one meetings with each member quarterly • Understand individual motivations • Call and connect • Update if not at meetings • Ask for advice & assistance related to special skills • Share good news personally • Show genuine appreciation for special support, engagement • Dedicate minimum 20% of time to Board development & engagement • See Board as your friends, not foes Action Planning • What action will you take towards creat a “best Board” for your organization? • What outcome will that create? Aspiration for Creating Your Best Board What is your high dream for creating a “best Board” in your organization?
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