It is lonely at the top. That’s a fact borne out in my work with senior leaders. The higher up the organization you go, the fewer peers you have. The people giving you advice have their own agendas, not nefarious…
A recent Deloitte study found that 60 percent of boards were concerned about company strategy. I am pretty certain that 60 percent of management teams don’t think they have a problem. Very often the issue comes down to poor communication between the board and management.
Quality and Quantity: Keep the volume of information down and the quality up. Well-written, succinct board papers go a long way to building trust and confidence in management. Put the extra detail into appendices for members who like a more comprehensive approach. But keep your focus on high quality information. Agree on the frequency of communication with your chair and check in to make sure that’s still the right level. Better to ask than find out at a board meeting they are unhappy.
Dashboard: Create a dashboard of priorities that is agreed with the board and on which you regularly update them. Don’t make a laundry list of issues to which you keep adding. Use the board meeting to confirm these are still the right priorities.
CEO: Spending time building relationships with your chair and board members is a key part of your job. Don’t assume they have read everything you sent them. Assume nothing. Build strong personal relationships founded on trust that will help you weather possible storms ahead. If they know you well, it’s harder to dislike you, hopefully.
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