As directors of your organisation and the lead advisors to its board, you spend a lot of time together. This closeness means that there’s ample opportunity for friction. But friction can be productive – it creates sparks that can ignite new ideas and connections. Collaboration is an essential part of every organisation’s success, so as leaders, you must know how to create a collaborative space, especially when you’re managing members of the board and CEO recruitment.
If you want your board to perform optimally, take the steps below to create a collaborative space between directors and the CEO.
Know the difference between collaboration and consensus
Contrary to popular belief, consensus doesn’t always mean everybody gets what they want. It means that everybody is willing to accept what’s best for the whole. That’s a big difference. There’ll be times when the board and CEO will disagree on the best way forward. Collaboration is when you create a safe environment to discuss those disagreements and arrive at a solution that everyone can support.
When you have created a space where all participants feel they can be honest and open without judgement or scrutiny, true collaboration can happen and the organisation will benefit from the best of both worlds.
Create a safe environment for disagreement
Disagreements are bound to happen as you work to create a vision and move the organisation towards its goals. How you handle those disagreements is critical to how well your board operates. When members of the board disagree with the CEO or one another, they need to create a space that feels safe enough to handle those disagreements in a productive way. Acknowledge the tension and take steps to ensure everyone feels heard and is able to contribute their best thinking.
To achieve this, asking questions should be encouraged during meetings and communications and any statements should be backed up with data and facts. To avoid any disagreements getting out of hand, there should be set rules in place to safeguard each board member and CEO alike.
Hold regular check-in meetings
Every board meeting is an opportunity to create a collaborative space between directors and CEO. The best way to do that is to have each meeting begin with a check-in. This should be a short time at the beginning of each meeting to ease the tension and set the mood for the remainder of the meeting. This could include each board member highlighting any challenges they are currently facing at work, as well as any positive news stories that would be beneficial for the group to know about.
Having these short sessions before each meeting makes the time a little more personal and could improve the relationship between the CEO and board members, the perfect recipe for collaboration.
Be transparent with your vision and plans
As the CEO, you’ve likely created a vision and strategic plan for the organisation. You’ve also likely already shared that information with the board, but the best way to continue building a collaborative space between directors and CEO practice is to keep those ideas open to discussion. If the board has suggestions or new ideas, encourage members to provide feedback and invite them to engage with your plans. Likewise, if there are any parts of the plans or vision that don’t feel right to you, be transparent about that, too.
It is easy to feel like the weight of the organisation rests on your shoulders, but remember that this is not the case. The board are there to support you and work collaboratively with you.
Offer coaching and mentorship
Some of your board members are likely seasoned leaders in their own fields, but some may still be figuring out the best ways to lead their organisations.
You can build a collaborative space between directors and CEO practice by offering coaching or mentorship from time to time. Have a one-on-one meeting with each board member to discuss the challenges they’re facing and share your experiences and insights as CEO.
Having regular one on ones with each member of the board will develop trust between you and ultimately result in a more collaborative and positive environment for the two of you and the rest of the board.
Don’t forget to celebrate small wins
When you have a lot on your plate as a CEO, it can be easy to overlook or forget about the successes that you and the board have achieved. Consider starting each meeting with any small wins from the past week or month, and take the time to identify how this was achieved and who by.
Allowing yourself these positive experiences helps keep morale high and keep the board motivated to keep ‘winning’.
If you want your board to operate at its best and be most productive, then you need to create a collaborative space between directors and CEO practice. That means having regular check-in meetings, creating a safe environment for disagreement, being transparent with your vision and plans, and offering coaching and mentorship. If you apply these strategies, you’ll find that collaboration becomes easier and more natural. And you’ll see your board operating more effectively as a result.