The 7 Best Board Leadership Techniques According to Real-World Leaders

The 7 Best Board Leadership Techniques, According to Real-World Leaders

Adopt the right techniques to optimize how your Board gets along and gets things done as a team

Steering the ship, so to speak, is no easy feat as the captain or a senior-ranking officer. The same applies to those in leadership and executive positions. We should always strive to learn, look for solutions rather than problems, and treat others the way we’d want to be treated. However, what are some genuinely top-notch techniques for board leadership specifically?

Let’s hear from seven leaders, highly respected in their industries, for some invaluable insights.

Give Praise Where Due, Not When Convenient

Not forgetting to take care of yourself and your fellow board members is important, and that’s where praise and support can make a team stronger. Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, clarifies this further. 

“As leaders, we all know that giving praise is an excellent way to encourage and motivate people. For example, you might tell a direct report “Good job on doing x-y-z” or “I really appreciate that you did x-y-z on that last project.” However, when we work with peers or at the board level, it can be easy to forget about praise and focus more on the work that needs done, giving constructive feedback and so on.

I believe the best board leaders are the ones that find ways to integrate praise at the high level. Your board members, executives, and other meeting participants are people too, and will therefore value the praise. In turn, this mechanic will help establish you as a leader that people want to follow.”

Evaluations and Action Plans

There is such a thing as process bloat, but that also means there’s an opportunity to make considerable refinements internally and gauge how your board is handling their individual responsibilities. Stephen Curry, CEO of CocoSign, explains the importance of optimal evaluation, reviews, and action planning.

“Evaluating board members is the best technique for managing a leadership committee. I believe the tip leads to the best outcome by offering a true representation of what is standing in the way of outstanding board performance. A good evaluation process can eliminate board performance obstacles and highlight best practices. 

Boards need to have clear objectives with a leader capable of driving the process and all board directors buy in for the expectations. You should ensure the process evaluates individuals and the board across a wide range of measures. Also, it is critical to give a comprehensive review of the results and an action plan to address any emerging issues.”

Proper Management

Becky Brown, CEO and Co-Founder of ShoppingKim, knows the importance of a well-refined leadership management approach. Read on as she explores this crucial element further.

“I believe the highest priority of any leadership board is to maximize its efficiency and manage its processes well. Management has always been my strong point, so I applied that approach to my board leadership. I would manage board meetings, establish clear and effective communication protocols, and focus on policies that enhance board effectiveness rather than drive away from it. Proper management is the key to success, and my management techniques revolve around establishing clear communication, goal setting, and process implementation.”

Risk Preparedness

Setbacks happen. So do unexpected surprises that can shake up your board’s collective or individual plans. Knowing what to do – and having that “plan B” at all – is essential, according to Yurii Brown, Founder of CoffeeGeekLab.com :

“Make risk management a pillar of your strategy. The ripple effects of an organization at risk go a long way. When an organization faces an existential crisis, the ramifications can go far beyond the employees or direct members of said organization. It is the board’s role to account for potential risks they may face, and to prepare contingencies against them. Cybersecurity, cultural or societal opinions, executive ethics – all of these can affect an organization’s long-term future. The best way to make sure risk is accounted for in a board’s operations is to designate it as a major component of organizational strategy.”

Stop Looking Outside Your Walls for Answers

There are plenty of tips and insights out there, but if a leader doesn’t address the elephant in the boardroom, they won’t get the team nearly as far. We’re big fans of how Kathy Bennett, CEO and Founder of Bennett Packaging Company, clarifies with razor-sharp precision the importance of looking within before considering external opinions.

“My largest takeaway is that your organization often expects you to provide them with strategic ideas that are practical as opposed to operational support. They are very much capable of providing operational support themselves as they are trained for it. Your role is that of a leader and one must be conscious of that at all times if one wants to make a difference.

Motivation and inspiration that are not based on the reality of the people you lead are useless, hypocritical, and honestly, quite offensive to the people who work hard for the organization and don’t get a share as large as you do. Please refrain from imitating business leaders and focus on facts directly from the organization and work your way through it.

Ultimately, what matters is that you genuinely want to make a difference and contribute by leading through the experience and expertise that you have earned over the years. The board is extremely important, and it can change the game.”

Added – and Sustained – Value

Valuation shouldn’t be restricted to financial concerns – it should be a fact of life within your company or organization, even at the board level. Matthew Paxton, Founder of Hypernia , details the need for valuing team members further.

“Allowing the team to participate in the decision-making process, provide feedback, and exchange ideas boosts the team’s overall involvement. When the leader asks for advice and listens to suggestions, the team members believe they bring value to the company. They believe that their abilities are being recognized and that their opinions are being valued. Additionally, involving a group of problem solvers can aid in the creation of a list of potential solutions. Your problem may necessitate a number of solutions rather than a single one.”

The Right Resources (for the Right People)

Not everyone learns the same way, and we should embrace this wholeheartedly as leaders. Jerry Han, Chief Marketing Officer at PrizeRebel, delves deep into the fundamentals of resource allocation to set everyone up for success, not merely a select few.

“For more productive committee meetings, provide supplemental visual resources. Regardless of seniority, skill, or experience, people have fundamental differences in how they learn and interpret new information. Some are auditory learners, while others prefer reading, writing, or learning from pictures and diagrams.

To ensure that all in attendance are engaged enough to communicate and participate, encourage meeting-goers to prepare visual resources ahead of the meeting. This might include mind maps, graphs plotting a trend, or pictures that depict a certain concept or strategy. The inclusion of these additional resources rapidly accelerates the learning process and makes for a more productive committee meeting.”

And there you have it: seven experience-driven insights from real-world leaders in a variety of applications and industries. If you are keen on optimizing how your board gets along and gets things done as a team, consider adopting some of these and looking within your organization to identify any pain points accurately.

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photo Amanda Nieweler

Amanda Nieweler

Amanda writes for WhistleBlower Security about ethics, compliance, workplace culture, and whistleblower hotlines. Amanda brings her nearly two decades of risk and compliance experience to the WBS blog where she is dedicated to helping people and companies promote speak-up cultures.