Robert’s Rules of Order? I’m not a big fan of Robert’s Rules. Who is this guy Robert anyway? Who made him king?
Okay, you’re right, my tongue is planted firmly in cheek. Boards do need to have a way of conducting their meetings and making group decisions. Robert’s Rules provide that framework.
That said, an overly strict adherence to the parliamentary procedures outlined in Robert’s Rules of Order can really be a buzzkill at board meetings. I’ve seen great discussions get derailed by uncertainty about procedural details. (Hence the title of this blog post, “Do I need a motion for that?” – a question I’ve heard more often than I care to count.)
Details of the board’s decision-making processes – especially the rules of voting – should be outlined in the organization’s charter documents, its bylaws, policies and/or governance manual. Some organizations’ bylaws actually mandate the use of R...
I’m happy to welcome back Alice Sayant as today’s guest blogger. Alice is a certified corporate director (ICD.D) and co-founder of DirectorPrep.com.
Lately, my guilty pleasure is binge-watching old episodes of Friends on Netflix. Something that happened in the first season prompted me to think about board orientation for new directors.
I know, I know. It’s quite a stretch to compare the characters in a 1990’s sitcom to board directors. And the Central Perk coffee shop is not exactly a board room. But bear with me. There’s a connection.
Early in the series, Phoebe Buffay (played by Lisa Kudrow) reveals that sometimes she feels like an outsider from the group, as the other five have a long history which she doesn’t share. Well, it occurred to me that, when I have been the newest director around the board table, I’ve felt like Phoebe. It has seemed to me - rightly or wrongly - that all the other...
“It’s not the question you asked, but how you asked it.” Ever heard that one before?
Thankfully it happens much less these days. But it took an experienced director to pull me aside after a board meeting one time to help see the light.
Body language, tone of voice, choosing your words with care, and simply waiting for the right time to jump into the discussion have all made a huge difference in my ability to have influence over others in the boardroom. But not every time. I still manage to mess up when I’m not conscious of listening first or not putting myself into the other person’s shoes.
W.A.I.T. “Why am I talking?” is a helpful acronym to tuck away into your savvy director toolbox. Try using it sometime before blurting out your question or interrupting someone who is talking.
Ask yourself, “Do I really need to speak to this agenda item? Or is it just my ego wanting to hear myself...
Remember that feeling just before walking into your first board meeting? That combination of excitement and trepidation? You were wondering what you had got yourself into. But you couldn’t wait to make your mark.
So what happened? You’ve been sitting on this board for a while now. And instead of feeling excited and energized, eager to add value and make a difference, you have this sinking feeling before every board meeting. You actually dread attending the meetings. But you’re not sure why.
I’ve been there. We probably all have. But why?
As human beings, our knee-jerk reaction is to blame something or someone outside of ourselves. That’s just ego talking. When I asked our community of board directors in a recent survey, “What do you think holds you back the most from achieving more satisfaction as a board director?” the single most frequent response was “lack of time”. Not enough preparation time, not enough time for development,...
From time to time in this space, I’ll be asking guest bloggers to share their thoughts about various board-related topics. Today’s blog is written by Alice Sayant. Alice is a certified corporate director (ICD.D) and co-founder of DirectorPrep.com.
Recently I was asked to join a board of directors. I was already serving on a couple of other boards, where I was quite busy with committee work, and so I agreed to join the new board but declined to sit on any committees.
Mistake! By not sitting on any committees, I had automatically excluded myself from some of the most interesting, important and engaging work that a board does. You see, boards have such a broad range of responsibilities that they delegate some of the heavy lifting to the committee level. And while that means more work for committee members, it also means that they get to interact with management, delve into details, and really learn about the organization in a way...
The question posed above by my finance professor in business school may be one of the most impactful lessons of my university education. Not sure why, except maybe to suggest that his question really hit home.
The question was pretty much a side comment to the discussion that was underway at the time and I’m not sure it resonated with others in my MBA class. But it did resonate for me. I was not even into boards yet, so, it wasn’t about that. Nonetheless it’s a powerful question I’ve brought forward more than a few times over the years.
One time a few years ago I was having lunch with a fellow director and talking about a rather difficult task we were facing with a board. After much analysis and deliberation, I knew I had gotten to the root cause of what was ailing the Board/CEO relationship. My colleague asked, “Do you think they’ll invite you back?” There was that question again …
So, what was it about? Didn’t people want to...
You’ve heard the old saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Busy people who get things done – not people who make themselves busy working on their procrastination habits. (Been there!)
Busy, productive people have a way to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Don’t be surprised if you happen to notice those same skills in the savvy directors on your board. Not to worry … you are not be that far from being there too.
Today’s blog post is all about what to do when the board package arrives ahead of the upcoming meeting. Ideally, it would arrive at least a week in advance, giving you plenty of time to review it. But don’t count on it. Life happens. The board itself is ultimately accountable for the quality of the information it receives, but responsibility for putting the package together rests with management.
And management takes its direction from the board. If you, as a board director,...
“Is this something I want to do?” “Is it time for me to start thinking about serving on boards at this point in my career?” “Am I already over committed and on too many boards?” “Would I agree to serve on this board just to make some money? Oh, it’s a volunteer position – I’ve done my share of those.” Maybe you can relate to this dilemma. I know I can.
I’m pretty sure a savvy director would have a baseline list of questions at the ready to determine if this opportunity was a good fit for their director skills, capacity and overall interest - or a better fit for someone else. They would have seen this movie before. They would recall getting involved with a board without doing their homework first, and then finding themselves eagerly waiting for their first term to expire.
On the other hand, if you’re a savvy director in-waiting - an up-and-coming director who realizes you...
Some of you know this story … my first board meeting fifteen years ago was a disaster – a horrific experience really. I had been asked to represent the regional chapter of my professional association on the national board. Then, while I was flying to Toronto to attend my first meeting, my local group sent a letter to the chair of the national board demanding that the CEO be replaced, without me knowing about it.
How do you think that went over with my new board?
What kind of welcome mat do you think they rolled out for this new director? I got killed.
Not only was this my first meeting with the national board – it was my first board meeting ever! As you can imagine, there is more to the story and we can save that for another day. For now, let’s just say my chapter had vocalized the ‘elephant in the room’ by writing that letter – the organization had been hemorrhaging membership for many years – but the execution was deeply flawed,...
When you accepted your board appointment, you assumed responsibility for more than just showing up for meetings and hoping for the best. Your commitment to prepare thoroughly and think through strategic issues is critical to your board meeting’s success.
Boards are looking for people who are willing to put in the time and do the work to make an impact. The directors’ challenge is that they have limited time to meet face-to-face, so it’s crucial they use the available time effectively. Ensuring that board meetings are effective comes down to each board member being well prepared. This allows the board to focus on moving forward with strategic issues, instead of spending time reviewing background information and reports that were available before the meeting.
For you, the individual board member, being ready all comes down to following a process. This process is captured in our ROCK Model®.