Emotional connection is the backbone of positive board dynamics. A board that has good relationships can make better decisions for their company. As a director or CEO, it is up to you to determine if your board is functioning at its highest level – so how can you tell if your board has poor emotional connections? We have put together some of the most common signs of a board that is disconnected.
Sign #1: Board members are not comfortable speaking before or after a meeting in a social setting.
Generally, with large boards, there will be a reception or time before/after the meeting for the directors and chairs to socialize without focusing on the issues. Pay attention during this time – if board members are relaxed, showing mutual admiration, and camaraderie, that’s a good sign. If board members are stand-offish or skip the reception all together, you might be working with a disconnected board.
Sign #2: The board doesn’t talk about their accomplishments.
The board should be aware of every step the organization makes towards its goals. Chairs should also be reaching out to individual board members for their accomplishments. Giving appreciation and recognition is an effective way to help board members feel valued and to increase loyalty to the organization. This is especially true in the case of large boards where directors can feel ignored or lost in the crowd.
Board meetings are especially a good place to acknowledge individual and team efforts. Public recognition elevates individual and group status, inspires the board, and motivates people to excel in their performance. If your board doesn’t take time during their meetings for thank or acknowledge everyone’s effort, there is a good chance your board members are feeling disconnected.
Sign #3: Engagement is not a priority on the board.
Participation by all board members is essential for positive emotional connections. With larger boards, it is a good idea to divide the room into smaller groups so that every board member has an opportunity to participate and be heard during the discussion. Engagement is a motivating force that keeps each board member interested and creates a feeling that their time was well spent. The need to be heard goes back to our innate need to belong. Research shows that there is a strong correlation between feelings of belonging, emotional satisfaction, and cognitive functioning. Feelings of belonging are fostered when board members experience comfortable interactions and share a sense of genuine interest in each other’s opinions. Engagement can be seen in body language as well. Maintaining eye contact with a speaker, keeping good posture, and showing active listening cues such as reflection help establish and maintain a good emotional connection.
Sign #4: Board members are not familiar with the Mission, Vision, and Core Values of the company.
The Vision, Mission, and Core Values provide board leaders a foundational map by which to make decisions. Having board members share their interpretation of the Vision, Mission, and Core Values provides consistency and predictability which will insure board members are making decisions that are aligned with the company’s goals. Take time during your next meeting to ask board members if they know the Mission, Vision, and Core Values and what they think of them. Boards that believe in what the company stands for feel a stronger sense of pride and more emotionally connected to the organization.
There are many more indications that your board may be disconnected, but these four signs are a good place to start. CEOs and Chairs that have awareness of these connections will be able to address and make the appropriate changes on the board to improve relationships and create safety for their board members. If you would like more information on how to reestablish emotional connection, please contact us at [email protected].
Part 2: Dismantling a Lock-In in the Boardroom: An Emotionally Focused Approach to Board Effectiveness