We know that when people feel good about where they are, their performance increases. This is especially true of board members. Environment sets the foundation for performance. When we talk about “environment” we mean the way members are greeted, how they sit, the general feeling in the room, and anything that may affect their mood or engagement.
What is a “safe” board environment and how do we achieve it?
In safe environments, when members lose or miss a beat, they can quickly re-engage and re-establish their connection. This is because they are in a supportive environment that promotes trust, loyalty, and collaboration. Ideas flow more freely in these types of environments so more progress is made and directors and chairs feel better about the work they are doing and make better decisions.
Safe environments are created by increasing the following behaviors:
- Sharing information – making sure everyone is on the same page
- Discussing and collaborating on difficult issues openly
- Engaging each other directly and respectfully
- Practicing empathy for one another
- Looking for opportunities to strengthen shared loyalties
Another way to create a safe environment is to rally your fellow board members together and make it a common goal. If board members are striving to understand the elements that go into making a positive environment then they can enrich their corporate setting and reach that safe environment where performance soars.
Safe environments are destroyed fairly easily.
We see stories every day of CEOs resigning unexpectedly (Bonobos) or major mistakes being made by boards. Chairs and executives not sharing the appropriate information (Lumber Liquidators) or CEOs acting in self interest because their board has failed to allow them to grow personally and professionally. These types of issues stem from a poor environment. To avoid the pitfalls of negative environments, make sure your board members avoid the following behaviors:
- Suppression or failing to acknowledge emotions
- Not showing support for each other and weakening mutual solidarity
- Shaming one another or using demeaning comments
- Displaying annoyance and impatience
These behaviors may seem small or insignificant, but it can make a huge impact on your overall board performance. The environment your board functions in sets the foundation for meeting goals and performance – make sure you are setting up your board for success!
We based our mission on increasing board members understanding of how emotions help or hinder the success of their company. For more information, contact us.
Part 3 Dismantling a Lock-In in the Boardroom: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Board Effectiveness