The current COVID-19 virus outbreak is proving to be an unimaginable challenge for our communities, our states, our country, and our world. It is probably proving to be a challenge for your organization as well. All of my clients have one thing in common: They all have the blessing and the burden of operating in the context of a board of directors. Boards add a layer of complication with which private corporations do not have to deal. So, the question I am posing to Mr. or Ms. Chairperson of the Board and to Mr. or Ms. Executive, is this: Is your current relationship proving to be a blessing during the challenging time or an additional burden?
The answer to this question will always be based on the level of alignment between the roles and responsibilities of the board and the executive. It might be true that sometimes the personalities of certain pairings of these roles can mask misalignment for a time; but it is challenges such as those we are facing right now when even the most compatible of personalities will not be able to survive or even thrive.
Executive and board alignment is the key to moving beyond the simplistic approach of a list of “duties” or few pages of policies. Now is the time to survive through this moment of crisis; but, coming will be a time when you will have an opportunity to invest in preparing your organization for the next challenge.
While we are all still in this current crisis, reflect on these questions:
- What are the specific organizational issues and problems that you are currently dealing with in your business that are directly related to the global pandemic? Who is responsible for the issues?
- Are there times when you are not sure what your role should be?
- Are there times when you feel unclear as to the priorities and issues that need to be addressed? Do they sometimes feel in contradiction to your counterpart?
- When do you feel frustrated with your executive or board counterpart? Can you articulate what it was that caused you to be frustrated?
Once, answered, commit to surfacing these observations with each other; don’t blame the other but aim to begin to establish a shared understanding of what might be missing.
When this is all over, commit to exploring what you learned in a formal manner:
- Conduct a thorough and honest assessment of what was handled well and what wasn’t.
- Commit to specifically addressing the alignment between your board and your executive team, and pledge to get your board and executive team more aligned, so that you are better prepared for the next crisis.
- Commit to ongoing efforts to maintain better alignment and to ensure that future boards and executive teams benefit from your hard-earned journey to effectiveness.
Executive and board alignment is achievable through intentional assessment and development. In the meantime, do what you have to do to succeed, but begin to have discussions about how you will use what you have learned to fuel your efforts toward being better prepared to face the next challenge. We at Aligned Influence will be ready to help you on your journey to alignment when we are on the other side of this current challenge.
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