What is the biggest misconception about board members? According to Brad Quinn and Linda Moore of TNG, the number one fallacy is that a board member is there to express the views of a larger group of people. As Brad says, that’s just not true. No one person can be the voice for many. Brad believes that decision-making is better when you have more perspectives brought into a decision. That’s just one piece of advice –you can hear on the most recent podcast from the OREA Centre for Leadership podcast.
In this audio interview, Brad and Linda suggest that it’s the role of the Executive Officer (EO) in an association or organization to create a successful culture — one where board members, with the support of good structures and the right processes, can do the work that they’re supposed to do and have confidence in the decisions they make. That doesn’t come without some challenges, however, says Brad.
One of the biggest complaints Brad and Linda hear from EOs about their board members is that board members too often get “down in the weeds” and work on operational issues. Although this is understandable because board members may be used to working on operations in their own business, according to Linda, it leads to an ineffective board. One way that EOs can prevent this problem is to bring only the appropriate level of information to the board. Brad explains that if an EO brings operational issues to the board, the board will quickly dive deep into those issues. However, if the EO presents only more strategic issues, the board will tend to rise up to meet that level.
On the flip side, Brad says that the biggest complaint he has heard from board members is when they feel they are there to simply rubber stamp the will of EO. In these cases the board needs to take back some control. It needs to get involved in setting the agenda and determining what it is that the board members want to discuss and what decisions they want to make.
In the end, according to Brad, association leadership is all about people: a group of individuals who have assembled together to do the best they can for the membership at large. If the relationships aren’t attended to, then no structure or processes in the world can’t fix them. The healthiest boards have the healthiest relationships. That means that people have trusting open conversations: courageous conversations that bring real issues to the forefront, and the board hears all the voices that are there and respect those voices.
Title: Building Better Boards
Featuring: Brad Quinn and Linda Moore, principles at TNG
Length: 10:00 minutes
Brad Quinn and Linda Moore are principals at TNG, where they support leaders and organizations in leadership, strategy, governance and decision making. Prior to 1994 when Brad founded TNG, he held senior positions in large national consultancy and financial institutions. Linda was one of the first women executives for the Hudson’s Bay Company and was CEO of TranSKILLS, Ontario’s leading skills training and advisory council. Brad and Linda are also co-founders and directors of the Canadian Centre for Leadership and Human Values (CCLHV), a not-for-profit organization established to begin and sustain a global dialogue around leadership and organizational transformation. (www.cclhv.com )