Leadership is a driving factor in the efficacy of a board. All board directors affect the overall group dynamics and influence the board, but the Chairman (usually the CEO) really sets the tone for cohesiveness. Leaders should exhibit four main roles in the boardroom, Facilitator, Expert, Morale Builder, and Integrator. These four roles work together to make an extremely effective CEO and lead to a stronger board of directors. Let’s dive into each role and explain a little deeper:
The Facilitator role is the foundation. It’s how the work gets done. Facilitators provide open channels of communication and help their directors get a chance to affect the group. CEOs who facilitate get the most out of their board members because they help the machine to run smoothly and allow everyone to get their piece heard with as little friction as possible. Communication is the key to becoming a better facilitator.
The Expert role is the one easily taken by most CEOs. Experts stay on top of the industry – they offer new ideas and solutions as well as strong rationale to support their ideas. Expert CEOs keep their companies fresh and innovative. They are a source of new information and direction. Strong CEOs also bring experts into their board of directors. We see this with the Paypal CEO, Dan Schulman who recently welcomed bitcoin startup Xapo CEO Wences Casares onto their board. Casares will provide expert forward thinking insight to the Paypal board. To improve their expert role, directors can meet with the the CFO, the head of operations, and the CEO to really understand what the company is doing. Follow industry blogs and keep up with the latest technology. Understanding the ins and outs of the business will help you improve your expert role.
The Morale Builder role keeps the board of directors together. A CEO strong in morale building will reduce formality and status difference to recognize everyone’s contributions to the team. Morale Builders make their team feel good about what they are doing and keeps the board moving forward. Everyone feels appreciated and positive about their experience with a Morale Builder. To be a better Morale Builder, try to recognize fellow directors when they offer solutions and ideas.
The Integrator role brings ideas together. A CEO who is an Integrator will listen to all opinions of their board members and lead the team to a solution that synthesizes those ideas into one plan of action. By working from several perspectives, a good leader can create new possibilities that end in higher achievements. One great example of this is IBM CEO, Ginni Rometty bringing in Mark Fields of Ford to IBMs board of directors. Fields will bring a new and innovative perspective to IBM’s struggling board (read more). Integrating everyone’s opinion will often lead to the strongest solution.
These four roles, when used effectively, will advance the entire group towards their goals. A Chairman that is really good with one of these roles is not necessarily a great leader, they must work on all four roles and use them together to make a difference in their company. Leaders should strive to excel in each of these roles to achieve harmonious interactions and generate consensus for the best outcomes. At Level Five Executive we work with CEOs and Directors to become strong in each leadership role. To learn more, contact us.
Ten Ways to Unite Your Board During a Hostile Takeover in NACD Directorship Magazine