Get in the game and out of committee work
If you’re like me, you love a good story. And if you’re not a business book reader, you may have found your match in our new feature: William Mott’s The Board Game: A Story of Hope and Inspiration for CEOs and Governing Boards uses fictional characters to teach us about board leadership through great storytelling. The Board Game applies real life experiences to help you recognize red flags and employ useful tools when engaging the board, chair and CEO.
In each chapter, the story progresses candidly with its main character, David Andrews, who takes his first position as the head of a school, trying to muddle his way through relationships with the board. As readers we are privy to his all-too-realistic and sometimes painful challenges many of us will also face when attempting to align the board, chair and CEO. Mott uses the plot to provide us with teachable moments and guiding principles while attempting to prevent us from actually enduring some of the struggles ourselves.
Author Bill Mott concentrates on the single most important component of successful nonprofit organizations: the relationship between the CEO, the board chair and the governing board. He acknowledges, “To be successful, this demands a high level of trust, leadership, collaborative thinking and extensive cooperation.”
In my interview with Bill, I asked him about the common challenge we all share with boards that get mired in committee work at the expense of more visionary efforts. Here is what he had to say:
Have you observed CEOs who’ve successfully helped boards rise above committee work and delve into the organization’s vision and direction? If so, what did they do?
I have as a consultant observed and worked with many boards that do a wonderful job of understanding and embracing their role. The CEO has the leadership skills to guide the board toward an environment of teamwork and recognition that by working together, the opportunities to live out the organization’s mission and vision are improved. One of the components of the book I think has the potential to genuinely impact behavior is the chapter entitled “The Governance Promise.” It includes six statements that strategically reveal what is most important in building the strongest possible relationship between the CEO and governing board. Committing to these principles will make all the difference. The other contributing factor is education and training. Through retreats, orientation sessions, workshops and other professional development opportunities, boards can significantly enhance their governance skills and embrace what it means to be highly productive, contributing trustees.