Collaboration brings people from different walks of life and professions together. In the boardroom, each board director brings a wealth of strengths and experiences to their associations. Every productive board collaboration begins with solid communication and authenticity. Good collaboration skills are the hallmark of an effective, engaged board director.
Board directors need good collaboration skills because they have regular interactions with a variety of business professionals, including senior executives, committee members, legal teams, auditors, financial experts and consultants.
For effective board collaboration to occur, it’s important to create a collaboration-rich atmosphere where the boardroom is filled with trust and mutual consideration. Robust, energetic debates should be expected and encouraged. Inventiveness, innovation and problem-solving should be the norm. Sound collaboration demands an environment in which the forum is open to challenging opinions and new ideas.
While collaboration is a staple tool in the boardroom, it also has its challenges. It takes time for boards to develop the necessary skills where collaboration starts to gel. Board directors who are committed to honing their collaboration skills will form a model of collaboration that becomes ripe for effective decision-making.
Components That Enhance Collaboration
If we dissect collaboration, we find that there are essentially six different components for increasing effective collaboration — communication, authenticity, compromise, tolerance, being a team player and reliability.
Good communications skills are something that all nominating and governance committees should consider when recruiting board candidates. Board directors need to be able to communicate and express themselves effectively orally and in writing.
A truly effective board chair will be a master at managing channels of communication. All board directors need to understand their responsibilities, which include actively participating in board discussions on a regular basis. When the entire board is on the same page with respect to their expectations for communication, the board environment is ripe for the board to work and collaborate on achieving common goals.
It’s easy enough for breakdowns in communication to occur, so the board needs to be aware of problems associated with poor communications. In addition to tackling problems, boards can enhance communication skills by making a point to recognize the milestones of progress that result from good board collaboration.
Collaboration requires being able to harness the strength of each board director’s personality. Each board director needs to bring their authentic self into the boardroom and to bring their unique perspectives, talents, knowledge and skills to the table. It’s equally important for all board directors to be genuine and authentic when offering feedback to senior executives and to their fellow board directors.
There are no individual winners or losers when it comes to effective board collaboration. The boardroom should reserve plenty of room for compromise. Compromise requires each board director to ask the right questions, fight the right battles and know when to come to a consensus. Compromise is the result of tapping the strength of the best ideas stemming from collaborative efforts. When board directors are able to reach compromises that they feel comfortable with, they gain the added benefit of enhancing board director engagement and improving board dynamics.
There’s no room for stubbornness or self-centeredness when working toward compromise.
Another component that’s important to increasing board collaboration is tolerance. All board directors need to display tolerance and acceptance in their actions and in their speech. Diversity in the boardroom is certainly an asset, as it brings an infinite amount of differences into board debates. Differences in values, culture, perspectives, political views, business views and more demand that board directors be open to opinions and perspectives that are vastly different than what they know.
Collaboration also demands tolerance in the ways that individual board directors handle conflict and stress.
Being a Team Player
Individual agendas certainly don’t belong in the boardroom. All board directors need to have a team-player mindset and be focused on the same goals as their fellow board directors. Being a team player isn’t a skill that comes naturally for everyone. Committed board members will work on their collaboration skills, honing and perfecting them as much as possible.
With the absence of reliability, boards are certain to invite unpredictability into the boardroom. Without the expectation of reliability, it’s easy for board directors to drop the ball. The lack of reliability rears its ugly head when board directors show up to meetings unprepared or they simply refuse to engage. Reliability and consistency inspire trust. Reliable board directors have faith in the organization and in each other. Board directors should expect and encourage feedback on each other’s ideas. Without reliability, the results of collaboration will surely be disappointing.
Modern problems call for modern solutions. Diligent Boards gives board directors an online platform that connects board directors even when they’re geographically separate. The digital platform provides directors with direct access to the board’s agenda, meeting materials and other reports in real time simply by logging into the portal. Regardless of what time of day or night it is or where board directors are, the portal is available for collaboration and idea sharing, between meetings, after meetings and even during board meetings. As board meeting documents get posted, board directors can quickly and easily mark up and annotate documents and choose to share them with or without the markings. The platform is accessible via any mobile device so that board directors can engage when they’re on the go.
Modern governance solutions consider that boards require the highest levels of security on their governance software solutions. Diligent works hard to maintain tight security without sacrificing convenience for users. Diligent Messenger is a modern communication tool that far surpasses the security measures that boards can find with personal or business accounts. Trusting, open board collaborations can occur when board directors have the assurance that their discussions are confidential and not subject to hacking.
Without a doubt, collaborative boards regularly outperform the competition. With a little training, mentoring and support, board members who have weak collaboration skills can learn to develop and perfect those skills. The results of a collaborative board are greater than what any individual is capable of producing on their own. The benefits of board collaboration far outweigh any efforts that boards may take to improve collaborative efforts in the boardroom. Boards that choose to work on collaboration are sure to reach new heights in board performance.