How to Build Effective Lines of Communication Between Senior Executive Teams and Board
Conscious Leadership Scenario:
Communication is a simple skill (observable language – self-awareness and social regulation). But in the corporate governance world, it’s shocking how many boards and CEOs fail to harness this seemingly intuitive trait — particularly when working together. Working together is the “end goal” for both parties, right? Many corporate leaders must understand that communication between the board and the CEO is critical to achieving a sustained business culture.
The boardroom is a dynamic place where struggles of ego, power, rules, and authority continuously surface, and it’s not always clear in the turmoil of group dynamics how to communicate effectively. Smart and effective boards understand the need for open communication with CEOs. Chief executives, particularly the new ones, have a serious responsibility to develop high-level relationships with board members through communication that creates a rhythm and is predictable. But for those Senior Executives who choose not to understand how the Board likes to communicate this can quickly become a conundrum.
Negative Affect on Culture and Organizational Performance:
Without a relationship established that ensures proper communication between Senior Executives and Board Members, there’s an increased likelihood of elevated risks for business stakeholders.
No growth amid increased uncertainty
No accelerated talent agenda and no culture cultural vision as a strategic asset
No evolution of enterprise risk management (ERM)
There is no forward movement to prioritize cybersecurity and data privacy
No thought leadership to address geopolitics from a strategic perspective
No implementation to embrace ESG as a business imperative
Failure to redefine and better communicate long-term value
No strategy on a continuous improvement approach to board effectiveness
Conscious Leadership Solution:
“Let’s Work Together” – The Sweet Sounds of a Board-CEO Partnership. This starts with the deeper knowing of one’s self – Behaviors (observable language), Driving Forces (motivations/conflicts) and Emotional Intelligence (EQ – personal characteristics and social abilities). Doing business in the new economy will require leaders and teams to focus on developing new competencies. Emotions drive everything we do. Emotions govern the thoughts we have, which leads to the behaviors we exhibit. Which leads to a specific action that can determine the difference between an average solution and a great one.
1) Hold one-on-one discussions: Go out of your way to connect with board members who have deeper experiences in specific areas of business (e.g., compliance, risk, innovation, etc.) or industries.
2) Provide high-level updates on company initiatives: High-level reports on company initiatives invite questions from the board. This prevents CEOs from anticipating every question. For example, a high-level update on new software development allows the board to understand progress, or lack thereof.
3) Effectively communicate issues facing the company: Keep your key messages short, sweet and to the point. The board needs to receive clear and concise information regarding issues facing management and the company. Being clear and concise ensures the board that they have the quality information they need to make quick and accurate decisions.
4) Use outside subject matter experts (SMEs): SMEs are important because they possess authority in a particular area. The use of outside SMEs can support CEOs (when putting together detailed presentations, for example) when an unfamiliar business opportunity or situation arises. Easing the mind of Board Members from another perspective.