If you are wondering why your Board isn’t significantly engaged at a level one would expect from a high performance, strategic thinking Board, it may be that your Executive Committee has inadvertently caused the disengagement. Engaging leaders requires the creation of impactful, intellectually stimulating Board experiences. If your Executive Committee is making governing decisions that the Board could be making or exploring issues that the Board could be exploring, it is likely that your Executive Committee is limiting the Board members’ impactful, intellectually stimulating experiences.
The mere fact that a Board is formed using a competency-based model doesn’t mean it is a highly effective governing body any more than a representational Board is ineffective for the mere reason it is representational based. Although Board member selection methodology has a significant impact on Board performance, there are many other elements that contribute to high performance governance, such as: Board training, agenda design, Board briefing materials and governance structure.
In fact, one doesn’t have to choose between competency based and representational governance. One can have both by inserting competency based practices into a “representational” system. Regardless, a competency based Board might make the most sense for your organization for a variety of reasons. If you are considering moving to a competency based model, remember, you only get one chance; if it fails, it will be a long time before your organization considers competency-based models again. As such, a well thought out process/strategy is critical.
The reality is, improving Board performance starts with getting the “right people on the bus.” No longer can Boards wholly delegate the Board nominating process to nominating committees. Although members most often elect Board members, Board’s themselves must take an active role in the process of identifying, cultivating and nominating future Board members.
In the perfect world, chairpersons, when elected, would have all the perquisite skills and knowledge needed to excel in this important role. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an ideal world.