A group of outstanding individuals does not necessarily constitute an effective board

Too many boards are an assembly of impressive individuals rather than an effective team according to Professor Colin Coulson-Thomas.

His surveys and consulting work with boards have revealed that: “A group of outstanding individuals does not necessarily constitute an effective board. Board performance depends upon the interaction of particular people and personalities in the boardroom context. Membership changes can alter the chemistry.”

Coulson-Thomas finds: “New directors tend to be selected to complement the qualities of existing board members and improve a board’s operating dynamics. The preferred candidate might be the individual who best balances the team, rather than the person who is technically the most proficient. The deficiencies of individual directors can often be compensated for by contributions of other board members, allowing people to play to their strengths.”

He further finds that “Good direction is often about thinking rather than doing. Aspiring directors should really understand the difference between being a professional, a manager, an owner or shareholder and a director. Each of these roles can involve a particular perspective and certain responsibilities. People need to be alert to potential conflicts of interest.”

For more information, get a copy of Professor Coulson-Thomas’s book Developing Directors – A handbook for building an effective boardroom team here.

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