The effectiveness of the board depends on the quality of the reports and papers the executive team prepares against which the board discussed are based. Yet, many leaders lack the skill to summarize lots of information into easy to read formats for a business executive. In the end, board members receive lots of information that is not easy to read thereby making the role more cumbersome and less interesting.
As I have written in the past, the role of the Board Chairman is to manage the board to provide effective support to the executive team through the Chief Executive. The board as a whole is the boss of the CEO, and not an individual board member or board chair. As a result, a great Board chairman spends a lot of time defining the agenda with the CEO for the next board meeting and guiding the executive to provide appropriate board papers and in time in respect to each agenda item.
Effective board meetings are short, and laser-focused to address the key challenges. Executive management must define the major challenges of the business, conduct research to diagnose the root causes, and make recommendations informed by data and market research. As you make the Board paper, have a summary decision table 1, on top to guide the board with the decisions you require and the specific paper to find the details that support the decision. That way, board members are guided and focus on adding value instead of reading several reports and documents that lack content.
Download template: Strategy + innovations committee decision summary
The above template will make you an instant start. If you are a CEO, helping your board navigate the board papers and conclude the agenda in the shortest time possible is a sign of leadership competence. I recommend you do it for your upcoming board meeting and you will become a darling of the board members.
If you want to win, make the work of your immediate supervisor light and enjoyable to do. And for the executive management represented by the CEO, the summary of the above decision delivers just that to the board. Instead of spending hours reading board paper briefs and packs as if they are going to sit for an exam, they spend time discussing the future and how to transform it.
NB: Mustapha is the author of the book, how to get on the board and become a fantastic director, which you can buy from Amazon. To have Mustapha train your board at the next board meeting, contact us here.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, Mr Strategy 2020. All rights reserved.