A Different Approach to Board Consulting

All in all, consulting can be a pretty tough gig. Companies usually hire a board consultant when things are getting pretty bad and they generally expect fast results. It can be tempting to go into a consult with a set of expectations and a detailed plan to get things done based on the research you’ve done on the company. Our experience has shown us different.

Boards are filled with highly qualified and highly intelligent people. These professionals have been in their respective industries for years and have gained major insight within the company they are serving. When a board is dysfunctional, it is rarely because the board members are not qualified, rather it is because the board members are emotionally disconnected.

We know that groups are stronger than individuals alone, but putting together 10 highly intelligent individuals doesn’t necessarily give you an intelligent group. The key is taking a group and getting them to trust each other enough to become an effective team. As a consultant, it is my job to create this trust and develop the efficacy of the board.

I start by putting away the topics of the day. Usually a board will want to cover matters pertaining to the business in the board meeting. When they are emotionally connected, they can resolve content much more quickly and with better solutions. As a consultant, my job isn’t to help you solve your problems, but to give you the tools to solve them on your own much more effectively. It is more about creating a safer environment for board members to express views openly and honestly, share ideas, and collaborate together .

Board members are acutely aware of tension and emotion in the room. When I create safety for them to talk about their disconnect,  it will become clear where the breakdowns are. Sometimes it takes a little digging, but people have an instinctual need to be heard so once people start sharing, it gets easier and easier.

Using the Board Dynamics Process, I help board members to change negative interactions into positive experiences. This obviously takes some a bit of time, but the results are amazing. We have a clear map on how to break down emotional barriers and rebuild relationships that in the end makes the company more money in the long run.

Boards that create emotional safety effectively are better able to overcome obstacles such as hostile takeover attempts, mergers, and activist stockholders. So while your board would have to dedicate several meetings to this process, you will make up for that time due to increased efficiency with the removed emotional blockage.

Of course board consultants can have expertise in certain industry areas that may help the board, but the overall goal of the consult is to create a long lasting impact for the board to increase its effectiveness. This can only be accomplished in developing emotional safety and strengthening board relationships. By providing your board with the techniques to maintain a new positive interactional cycle, you will be setting them up for success in a way that no governance solution really can. You will be empowering your board members to bring their best selves forward to find solutions and surpass your company’s goals.

For more information on creating board effectiveness with the Emotionally Focused Board Dynamics Process, please contact us at [email protected].

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