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This is the third of three articles on the topic of human capital. The first, Overseeing “Our Greatest Asset”, dealt with the board’s role in Human Capital Management and the second, The Talent-Savvy Board, dealt with Talent Management. In this article we explore the importance of organizational culture.
An organization’s culture can make or break a brilliant strategy and build or damage the careers of experienced executives. A positive culture that aligns well with strategy can produce innovation, growth, leadership, ethical behavior, and customer satisfaction. But a negative or misaligned culture can impede strategic outcomes, erode performance, diminish customer loyalty, and discourage employee engagement.
Yet, despite its importance, corporate culture has only rarely appeared on board agendas. Few boards have spent time overseeing culture with anything like the rigor they’ve applied to compliance, strategy, risk, or CEO succession.
I like the metaphor of “getting in gear” to refer to the topic of board engagement. It’s a familiar phrase that means “starting to deal with something in an effective way.” When a board of directors gets in gear, it starts to deal with the issues and concerns in front of it in an effective way. In other words, it makes an impact.
To stretch the metaphor just a bit further, let’s think of individual directors as the gears. When directors are appropriately engaged, they work together to change the speed and direction of the board – just as gears can change the speed and direction of a machine.
“When most people think of high-performing teams, they think of sports teams, trauma center professionals, or fire department crews. They rarely think of … boards. Still, if you want an exceptional board, you need to create a high-performing board team.” - Governing As a Team. BoardSource
“Patience is the art of concealing your impatience.” – Guy Kawasaki, American marketing specialist
When we asked our Savvy Director readers, “What boardroom skills do you want to have help with?” a number of you responded with variations on the themes of how to exercise more patience, how to be more tolerant, and – to be brutally direct – how not to get frustrated with other directors.
I get it. Sometimes, after an unsatisfying board meeting, I’ve thought to myself, “Board work would be great if it weren’t for all the other people in the room!”
It’s okay to indulge that secret thought for a moment or two. But the reality is that board work is a group activity – that’s the nature of the beast. If we don’t learn to channel those frustrations into something more positive and productive, the road to being a Savvy Director is going to be a rough one.
There are two reasons I particularly like our...