Building a Board Team: Five Easy Steps.

board development and revitalization. mission. vision. values roles and responsibilities Jan 23, 2023
Building a Board Team: Five Easy Steps.


A key role for the Chair is to build a team around your Board table. But what is involved? Does it make a difference? Recent research from re:Work suggests it makes all the difference.


The quality of one’s relationship with one’s teammates can have a huge impact on performance, engagement, and innovation. Researchers have been looking at what makes a team effective for years, and the many possible dysfunctions of teams are well documented. One idea that has been growing in popularity is that teams that can trust one another, that allow for questioning, risk-taking, and mistakes, perform better. The idea is called psychological safety and it’s been studied in office workers, hospital nurses, and even astronauts.”


How does one apply this to the Board room?


It would appear that the Chair (and really it can only be the chair) has five important variables for your Board to work well together.


You need to have a measurement/observation system for each and every one of these variables.


First, and perhaps most important, psychological safety. Board members need to feel safe to take risks and be vulnerable in front of each other. Is this your culture? Can you ask your questions, and make your proposals without fear of ridicule or repercussion? Who monitors performance around the table? Is there a process observer? Does the chair hold those courageous conversations with the recalcitrant?

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The second is dependability. Members get things done on time and meet a standard of excellence. Does your strategic plan have deadlines and assigned responsibilities? Does your work plan ensure deadlines for committees? Do these plans feed your board agenda to ensure accountability and progress? What is your standard of excellence for board performance? Is good enough good enough? Are all reports written according to a template?


The third factor is structure and clarity. Each board member has a clear role description, committees have plans and goals, and the focus is on board work, not management work. Committees have clear terms of reference, work plans and deliverables, all of which contribute to your mission and overarching strategic plan.


The fourth criterion is meaning. Your mission, role, and this board work are personally important to board members. They understand what they are doing and why. They live your values and believe in your mission. Your mission is front and center and informs your work.


And fifth and final is impact. Members think that their work matters and creates change. Your Key Success Factors extend beyond transactions to outcomes and impact. Board members not only believe that they are making a difference but can see a measurable impact on the quality of experience of people who live and work in your community. The focus is on community development.


We should all expect more from board work. But for too many, this work isn’t fulfilling, inspiring, or anything more than a means to some unstated end.


We can do better. Building a team with thoughtfulness and deliberation is a good beginning.



Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.


Training for the whole team!

Online Training Programs with Ken Haycock


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In this one-month course, you will move from feeling reticent and tentative to competent and confident, asking good questions and making great contributions. The course complements and reinforces your on-site orientation and opens new channels of communication and discussion. Four weeks. Two brief video lessons (watch at your convenience) per week plus downloadable handouts. 30-day money-back guarantee.

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The Board Leader Academy:

A step-by-step guide to higher performance and impact.

Our spotlight course is designed for CEOs/Executive Directors, Board Chairs, and those who are interested in leadership positions on not-for-profit, for-impact boards. Six weeks. Three brief video lessons with handouts per week (watch at your convenience) plus additional downloadable resources. 30-day money-back guarantee.

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 P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.


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