Recently I worked with Kylie Hammond from the Directors Institute on a Fast Track Masterclass for Boards during which we covered Board Career Planning and Strategy as well as Board Leadership. It was an incredible day with 28 current and future Board Directors.
Leadership on Boards is pivotal. Why?

Much has been written about governance on boards, but there is little that addresses the development of leadership: how Board members, advisors or directors can transform themselves into an active, engaged, and knowledgeable team – one that can guide and lead an organisation to anticipate, adapt and respond to the myriad of challenges within organisation’s today.

This is where Leadership matters.

I want to explore what is meant by board leadership, why it is so important for today’s boards and how to create an organisational culture that encourages and supports board members to step up to their leadership responsibilities.

When we work for leaders on boards, we find the most fundamental path for any board leader is knowing who they are as board leaders and how they can serve on boards. In turn what they stand for, their values, their purpose, their passions, their brand and how their skills and talents are transferrable for the board.

We also tend to see leadership on boards are most apparent at times of transition or crisis, such as:

  • Early stages of organisational development,
  • Transition from a founder/executive director or long-time board chair,
  • Responding to a major new initiative from external sources/conditions, and/or
  • Implementing the decisions of an internal planning process.

So what is Board Leadership? It can be defined as board actions that have served to move organisations forward so they can successfully meet the above challenges and –

  • Mobilise action to further the mission,
  • Help the organization adapt to changing circumstances,
  • Respond to crisis
  • Identify opportunities for change and growth, and/or
  • Create future leaders.

Board leadership
is expressed most powerfully and crucially during times of transition and crisis; such periods are also when the absence of leadership is most visible and most devastating to an organisation. However, as much as Board Leadership is critical during these times, Board Leadership is needed everyday as it leads the Board Culture.

Board culture refers to the shared meanings, understandings, ways of interacting, expectations, values and beliefs of the board members as a whole – and the individual cultures of all the members (which over time can transform the board’s culture). Board culture is crucial to performance and leadership because it can be a powerful and sometimes invisible force that pressures members to conform to the established behaviours of the group.

To build a great board culture and leadership we need –

  • Respect for each others strengths and differences
  • Communication and Transparency
  • Ability to Learn from Conflict and Debate
  • Trust is Fundamental
  • Inclusive Leadership

In turn, today the qualities needed for Board Leaders (I believe in leadership in any seat as we are all leaders) includes –

  • Commitment and Passion for the Organisation
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Strong Emotional Intelligence
  • Focus on making a difference
  • Communicating and engaging with others
  • Being Adaptable and Agile
  • Leading Change
  • Knowing what you don’t know
  • Ability to take risks
  • Honest and forthright
  • Commitment and loyalty

I would love to know your thoughts on how you are building great Board Cultures or what is needed today for Board Leadership?

Leadership Matters.

If you would love to know more about being a great Board Leader, building a Board Portfolio or how to get onto Boards contact me directly at sonia@leadershiphq.com.au or Kylie Hammond on kylie@directorinstitute.com.au or check out the amazing Board Programs at the Director Institute as they will be launching programs across Australia!

Phone 1300 719 665 or +61 424 447 616

www.soniamcdonald.com.au

sonia@soniamcdonald.com.au

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