Corporate Governance: Vibrant boards define success


Vibrant boards are attractive. They are energetic.

They are likely to drive results.

While not a barometer of effectiveness, vibrant boards are more likely to succeed as compared to dull, easily pliable and well-mannered ‘Aye! Captain’ boards.

‘Vibrancy’ may be palpable from the energy in the room, ease and independence exuded by board members, conviction in voicing differing opinions, a questioning approach to executive decision making and a sufficient degree of clarity in providing feedback on proposals put forth to the board.

A board that sits well together, brings together diverse opinions, collaborates and is able to bring individual strengths and contributions to the table is more likely to succeed in the fast paced business environment. The openness and commitment exuded by a lively board encourages all members to contribute their best.

Board members who work together, talk candidly and address difficult issues are a force. Not only are they actively addressing issues and solving problems, they are creating a cultural framework for conducting business. Slowly, the modus operandi is likely to evolve into ‘this is how we do business here’. The culture at the top often trickles down into the lower rungs of the corporation.

New board members are more likely to be driven to positive action by such a board and contribute wholeheartedly. Bryan Stolle captures it well, ‘Being a great board member means being an active evangelist in the ecosystem, sharing your network, and keeping your eyes peeled for opportunities when you can best promote the company. It also means being actively engaged.’

But are these boards always born into greatness? Or is there something more deliberate to it?

In certain instances, challenges and difficulties may have led to the creation of something of a ‘Divergent’; the next gen human or reinforced super-being. Or it may be that their powers have been re-configured after a brief period of loss!

This new avatar may have morphed from a tumultuous past and there may be an element of ‘design’ in its splendid form. Certain CEOs, having seen the downside of a not so functional board may have decided to take active part in the recruitment, orientation and mentoring of new board members. Says Ram Charan, in this interview, ‘Let the new CEO decide what he or she needs — their effectiveness will be heavily dependent on the people they surround themselves with.’

The chair of the board might also choose to play a role. They understand what the organisation needs to succeed and may seek out board members that fit the bill in terms of skills and cultural fit. They can provide invaluable support and information needed for such candidates to adapt and flourish in the new environment. Lets not forget, however that it is not a single member but the interplay between the members, the chair and the CEO that will make a difference.

While other factors are needed to drive effectiveness, vibrancy and dynamics of board interaction is an important starting point.

Sometimes, all that is needed is the lack of barriers.

© Anu Maakan 2017

(Disclaimer: all views published here are the personal views of the author and do not represent those of any organization).


Author: Anu Maakan

Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this page. I'm a change specialist, business blogger and art enthusiast. I'm focussed on topics such as corporate governance, compliance & control, metrics, performance management, human capital, financial regulation, leadership. Find me on twitter @AnuGolden, Or email

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