December 01, 2018

Board of Directors’ #1 Weakness That Is Not Understood or Sought After

Justin Spannuth

Justin Spannuth
Vice President and Chief Operations Officer/Unique Pretzel Bakery, Inc.

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Have you ever walked away from your board meeting feeling unfulfilled or even frustrated? Have you felt like you sat through a painful event of watching nothing get done or tensions having to flair before they do but you can’t quite put your finger on what is wrong? Every company knows what board member types to hire that are strategic for their company’s needs. It’s easy to check a box and say that you have your financial professional with an impressive background and the manufacturing expert with great LEAN experience but are you getting the most out of those professionals? Or even more so, do you have the right people at all? Do they know how to communicate and understand each other’s points and opinions and know how to properly relate the knowledge to their expertise? Do you have combative personalities or even just one member that seems to disrupt progress?  That is all you need for the teamwork capability of a functioning board to fall to pieces.  

The Chairman of the Board is in the position to run the meeting smoothly. But even still in many companies, the chairman was appointed because of their tenure or vast skill set in understanding the company as a whole but do they have the Emotional Intelligence to run the meeting as effectively as possible? The chairman is not always the type to understand all opinions and personalities to get the most out of the group the company is paying for.  

A box that needs to be checked for all boards, Directors and Advisory, is someone that is strong at guiding personalities through conversation to be sure that everyone is at maximum effectiveness. Some boards naturally have this because of skilled hiring or by luck but there are so many that don’t. Boards that don’t have this skill set are most apparent in a company that isn’t doing as well as they need or want because typically tensions run higher and now you have the dynamic of a disgruntled locker room of an underperforming team. That doesn’t mean that a solid growth company steadily hitting its goals doesn’t need this too. When a company is achieving its goals, typically the personality flaws are more easily looked over and tensions stay at bay because the company is doing well but that doesn’t mean they are being as effective as they could be and that growth couldn’t be even better.

Having a professional with strong Emotional Intelligence (EI) with the ability of guiding leadership can be one of the most difficult roles to fill because 1) it’s rare and 2) Emotional Intelligence isn’t necessarily something that can be put on a resume with an impressive educational degree to back it up or a professional experience in their past to feature EI as the strength to get them there.  

Comments? You can contact me directly via my ExecRanks profile.

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