Our objective was to explore the experience of leading boards as they navigated through the pandemic and to understand how their recent experiences could have greater applicability to the future focus and workings of the board.
We posed questions to the Chairs and NEDs centred around their:
- Business operations and strategy
- Running the board
- Sustainability and business purpose
- Being a Chair/ Non–executive director
Advise to future chairsThrough our interviews, we discovered that the role of the Board and Chair, while always challenging, became more complex during the COVID-19 pandemic. Boards’ involvement in business operations and strategy has deepened during this time, often evolving to become more focused and intentional boards.
Sustainability and business purpose is also emerging as a strong upcoming theme as companies and individuals became alive to the fact that they do not exist in isolation. Most Chairs and Directors commented that while it was a growing global agenda, local traction is still in its nascent stages, hastened by COVID-19.
Board composition, diversity, strong induction programs, continuous education, and focused board agendas were identified as the key characteristics of good boards. Directors also shared some of the practices that make Boards ineffective such as conflict of interests, lack of structure in board meetings, lack of preparation, and lack of continuous learning, upskilling and reskilling.
As we enter the new year, the role of the Board and the Chair remains more important than ever in guiding the companies, which they govern. The interviews sessions with the various NEDs represent the collective wisdom of their experience, which is intended to guide future Chairs in the making.