Monday, April 9, 2018

The Game-Changing Board

Digital means rapid change, the unprecedented uncertainty, the era of options, the expanded spectrum of innovation, and people centricity. 

With the increasing speed of changes and unprecedented business velocity and uncertainty, the modern corporate board becomes one of the most important leadership pillars and plays an important role to inspire, improve, interact, interpret, exemplify, influence, innovate, and orchestrate change and digitalization. There are quite a lot of things digital boards need to shape up, and there are so many issues the boards have to deal with. How to break down conventional wisdom and routine activities, refresh processes and practices, for building a game-changing digital board?

They change rules, not just follow the rules: Do you see corporate governance as a compliance matter? There is a strong compliance element to corporate governance. Complying with regulations and guidelines is just the beginning for practicing executive power in the boardroom. The question itself reflects the need for a paradigm shift. The game-changing boards refresh rules, not just follow the rules. Digital rules are not some outdated cliches or overly rigid policies to stifle changes. The business rule is a statement to set the policy or procedure, it needs to be changed when necessary, to drive the new paradigm shift and open the new chapter of innovation. Nowadays, boards find it very difficult to steer the business effectively, simply because it deals with a lot of uncertainty and unknowns, but that is exactly what a senior executive team does. To lead forward, the corporate board has a responsibility to build the right set of principles for shaping the collective enterprise mindset, attitude, and influence behavior. The updated digital principles unify, not divide, to empower employees at all levels within an organization to unlock their potential, understand and develop their creative capacity to solve problems and exploit opportunities in new and innovative ways.

They ask deep questions, not just offer answers: In the industrial age with information scarcity, the senior leaders, such as board directors, are expected to always answer the questions, provide advice to executives, sometimes for maintaining the status quo, even they themselves struggle to find answers. It somehow compromises the directorship effectiveness. Just because leaders are in that position, it doesn't always mean they necessarily know what is best. True leaders have always been intrigued and they have always leverage critical thinking to ask insightful questions, to themselves, to circumstances, to books & media, to experiences, and to other fellow colleagues. They have the well-blended confidence and humility to lead via questioning, acknowledging that their job as a leader is not just to provide answers but facilitate solutions. They can build leadership reputation via both asking and answering. They are open learners, meaning that they are willing to engage the ambiguity of the context in businesses of what contributes to the long-term health of the organization.

They move the needle on diversity, not just get stuck in the old circle of homogeneity: Leadership is all about future, direction, and change. The game-changing boards continue removing leadership barriers, filling the multitude of gaps for improving leadership effectiveness and maturity. However, most of the boards still operate on a traditional approach to recruiting in the old circle and follow the best practices executing its function. More often than not they get stuck in the old circle of homogeneity. From the board composition and leadership perspective, bridging cognitive gaps and sharing different perspectives becomes a strategic imperative for improving directorship effectiveness and leadership maturity. Modern board directors set principles, open to criticism, and take the risk of innovation. To move the diversity needle, the directors need to be diverse by industry background, mindsets, skill, experience level, and perspective. Not only do today’s BoDs need to have sufficient knowledge to understand the digital business ecosystem, but also they should have the collective insight to present today and foresee the future. This diversity in viewpoints along with digital acumen will allow them to be real "thought partners" with senior management and the game changer for leading the digital paradigm shift.

Digital means rapid change, the unprecedented uncertainty, the era of options, the expanded spectrum of innovation, and people centricity. All of these changes bring the significant opportunities and responsibilities for the new breed of digital BoDs. Changing the game starts at the mindset level, those digital ready boards with the new breed of BoDs have the advantage of sharing fresh ideas, pulling enough resources and pushing the business model of technology, trustworthiness, innovation, mastering digital fluency to make profound leadership influence and reach the next level of business maturity.

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