How can we transform the necessary evil of governance into a valuable culture of guidance? Sounds great, doesn’t it? But really, how…?
Well the brutally honest answer is that we don’t know. What we do know is that board members have a variety of responsibilities, expectations, obligations, and strong opinions. Board members are often very successful entrepreneurs, investors, or executives with a lot of domain knowledge, complementary experience, and access to valuable networks. Right?
Then why is it that most management teams experience board members as difficult, directive and demanding? Scale-up founders are getting younger and more diverse, and this can lead to possible generation and cultural differences between boards and management teams. This inevitably leads to different needs in how to learn, understand and grow businesses. It would be wise in my opinion to establish and maintain (!!) mutual trust and to create common ground.
Creating a culture of guidance in boards
Some suggestions to get started:
- Book on self-reflection: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith. The book ends with leadership inventory questions by Accenture. Might be interesting to answer and share the questionnaire within the board team and management team. What are the differences, what is already in place and what to work on?;
- Book on cultures: “The Culture Map” by Erin Meyer. It offers a framework to figure out best ways of communication, evaluation, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling in a growing multicultural (business) world;
- Culture Design Canvas: “Design a workplace that propels you into the future”. Interesting for board members and scale-up founding teams to do this exercise and discover, learn and determine a shared vision on all topics;
- ScaleUpNation: to meet and learn from experienced and future board members by following the ScaleUpBoard program and other programs;
I sincerely hope that this culture of guidance also helps us, as (future) board members, to remember not to fool ourselves! Especially in those challenging moments when our egos have their full sway over us, which we are all too familiar with ;-). We should let go of the unhealthy overestimation of our own importance, because ultimately “it’s not about us”.
Therefore, I would love to recommend the following mission:
To help the CEO and management team of scale-ups succeed and exceed!
Michiel Reith is the director of operations at GRRR, a B Corp certified creative digital agency. Throughout his career he has been dedicated to helping brands, retail and agencies solve complex commercial and operational challenges. Michiel’s mission is to inspire people’s imagination for personal growth. He is a big believer in learning, which is also what brought him to the ScaleUpBoard program earlier this year.
When asked about his biggest learning in the program, Michiel answered “First off, it’s not about you. It’s about being there to support the CEO in achieving (and sometimes exceeding) their goals”. Another big learning that he plans to take into his current position is the importance of soft skills, or core skills, as he likes to call them, and culture. “I’d like to address these more on the agenda and recognize these as the driving force behind our behavior and the choices we make.” As a final takeaway, Michiel points out how essential it is to build mutual trust and find common ground before joining a board or management team.
”The program really exceeded my expectations, if I even had any. I am really proud of being part of this group.
Get the latest scoop on scaling, updates from the scale-ups in our community, and first access to our events.