The Board and the Corporate Spirit: Guidelines for Effective Governance

Is the chairman/chairwoman of your board making or breaking your corporate team spirit and are their boardroom habits building or destroying your company?

Any incongruency between the highest values of your senior executive leader or chairman/chairwoman of the board and the true, unambiguous and stated mission, vision and primary objectives of your corporation can undermine your corporate team spirit — not only among board members — but also the executive teams and management ranks below. Any perceived inequity among corporate board members can also lead to a decline in effective corporate governance. These perceived inequities can reduce the overall leadership integrity and result in both disorder and disrespect within corporate executive management teams.

Unwise personal bias, prejudice, unfairness, inequality and unfair assessment or judgment among corporate board members, or between board members and corporate executives or their management teams, can undermine the power of overall congruent team spirit and derail the execution of the corporate mission, vision and primary objectives. Disrespectfully putting other board members on pedestals, or in pits, and not appreciating or respecting them as equally contributing individuals as well as not honoring their unique contributions, can dilute the board’s governing capacities, board members’ creativity and the board’s essential collective leadership power.

You might ask, so how does a chairman/chairwoman of a corporate board ensure that their team members are acknowledged as equally respected individuals and what kind of behaviors or processes could they wisely incorporate to assure this?

Self-governed equanimity within the chairman/chairwoman and within each of the board members and a collective-governing equity between each of the board members can create or lead to the formation of powerful, sustaining teams. As Albert Einstein emphasized, exemplification is the greatest teacher.

Sustainable fair exchange, when it comes to individual board member contributions, is essential for cohesive and productive governance. To increase the probability of such governance, the following actions can assist:

  1. Having the chairman/chairwoman do a periodic self-assessment resulting in a checklist of what is working and not working over each period.
  2. Having an equanimity-inducing questionnaire answered and checked off at the end of each period for any ungoverned and unwisely elevated or depressed perceptions of any personal actions of board members or executives.
  3. Having each board member identify and list the top 25 contributions that each of the other board members have made, or are making, to them individually and to the overall corporation, thereby leveling the playing field and awakening greater team spirit.
  4. Having each board member identify and list their own equal contributions to the other board members and to the overall corporation. This will also assist in bringing about equanimity.
  5. Having each board member identify what each of the other board members do that they both like or dislike and then look within themselves for where they are presently doing and/or have done the same behaviors to the same degree. This can help each member calm down any unfair assessments and humble any internally-repressed judgments.
  6. Having each board member complete the Demartini Value Determination™ process to determine what is truly most important and highest on their list of values and create a fair individual compensation exchange for each of their contributions that is congruent with their individual highest values.

So what is the chairman’s/chairwoman’s role in all of this?

A board of directors is a body of elected, nominated, appointed or chosen members who jointly oversee the activities of the corporation. It governs through the use of bylaws and rules of procedures (Riddick’s) for its own members and the corporation’s key executives’ actions. It governs, establishes policies and objectives, selects, appoints, supports and reviews performances of chief or other executives, ensures financial resources, approves budgets, assures accounting accountabilities and sets salaries and compensations. The chairman/chairwoman of the board is the head of the board of directors and has to assure that the board:

  • Clarifies the corporate organizational mission, vision, primary objectives and values and focuses the board members on their individual roles.
  • Determines the most effective and efficient number and type of board members.
  • Leads the board members through a self-assessment for the sake of maximum self-governance and accountability
  • Trains and mentors the board members on governance principles and effective group decision-making strategies.
  • Conducts candid board member assessments.
  • Assures that the board members meet regularly.
  • Assures that the board meetings are meaningful and that they focus on priorities.
  • Develops mutual respect, trust, commitment and effective communication with the CEO.
  • Works together to plan and set agendas and policies.
  • Inspires board members to greatness.

If the chairman/chairwoman of the board exemplifies masterful self-governance and maintains equanimity, the demonstration of this inner mastery will ripple through the remaining board members and set the standard for a greater organizational order. This self-governance will be respected and will set the stage also for the duplication of that behavior in others.

“Sustainable fair exchange, when it comes to individual board member contributions, is essential for cohesive and productive governance.”

Because the chairman/chairwoman has a unique set of highest priority values and they can link them and see how their designated responsibilities and duties will help fulfill them, they are able to live congruently, become fully engaged in their position and become more poised and self-governed. Because of this congruence, their brain’s medial prefrontal cortex or “executive center” can become more fully active and bring order to their physiology, manners and behavior.

When the chairman/woman is faced with difficult directors (including themselves) that perhaps have big egos and don’t want to work as team players or buy into the big picture, their management approaches may necessitate:

  • Following the overarching rules that have been historically outlined in (Riddick’s) rules of procedure to the letter, so as to help objectively govern themselves or any other director “too big” to play fairly.
  • Creating an accountability checklist for themselves or any other directors of the board that have to be transparently checked off at each board meeting to assure accountability of the leader and members, and including in that checklist such items that moderate imbalanced tones of behavior.
  • Allowing for non–oppositional, solution-oriented feedback from each board member to be silently heard for the sake of the corporate board’s overall mission, vision, goals and primary objectives.
  • Being willing to be asked important questions that they do not feel they are qualified or knowledgeable to answer and that rely on one or more of the other board members to solve to assist in bringing equality (equity) back within members of the board.
  • Determining and clarifying the highest priority actions of each productive board member and having them be accountable to what efficiently and effectively produces results, i.e., saying yes to the top priority actions and saying no to low priority distractions.
  • Mastering the art of communicating specifically in accordance with each board member’s or executive’s highest values. When they help their members achieve what they want, the members will help the leader achieve what they want.
  • Having the chairman/woman hold a vast enough corporate vision in their mind’s eye that the entire board of directors working as a cohesive team —with a perfect blend of both support and challenge for maximum corporate growth and development — can become inspired by and clear enough in their own individual visions to achieve the overall corporate mission and vision.

About The Author

Dr. John Demartini

Dr. John Demartini, one of the world's leading authorities and educators on human behavior and leadership development, is the founder of the Demartini Institute, which offers an extensive curriculum of more than 72 courses on self-development, life mastery and leadership. Demartini's knowledge is the culmination of 39-plus years of crossdisciplinary research, and he travels internationlly full time, addressing audiences in media, seminars and consultations. He is the author of more than 40 self-development books, including the bestseller The Breakthrough Experience, and he has produced numerous audio CDs and DVDs discussing financial and business mastery, relationship development, health and healing, the art of communication, and inspiring education and leadership. Demartini has been featured in film documentaries such as The Secret; The Opus; and Oh My God, alongside Ringo Starr, Seal and Hugh Jackman; and he has shared the stage with influential educators Stephen Covey, Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra and Donald Trump. He has appeared on Larry King Live, The Early Show and Wall Street, as well as in publications Shape, Leadership, Success, Prestige, Entrepreneur and O. For editorial consideration please contact [email protected](dot)com.

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