Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Digital Board’s Composition Inquiries (II)

While there are many components of leadership, one of the most important ones is the ability to adapt, model and influence change.

Digital transformation is in every forward-thinking company’s top agenda; innovation is the light every organization is pursuing, and digitization becomes the new normal of business expansion. All of these bring the significant opportunities and responsibilities for the new breed of digital BoDs. Because the board in a high-level directorship position plays a crucial role in strategy oversight, business advising & monitoring, as well as setting key digital tones in leadership development and talent management. Here are a set of the digital board’s composition inquiries.

What personal traits are important in digital directors and how will these contribute to the overall performance of the digital board? While there are many components of leadership, one of the most important ones is the ability to adapt, model and influence change. Leadership is all about change management and also the ability to take initiative (change leadership). While the board’s directorship role also includes advising, monitoring, and mentoring. Asking insightful and pertinent questions is critical for governing changes so the directors would have to be able to quickly assess any numbers and facts they are given, against applicable benchmarks and detect relevant hints for further questioning or confirmation. BoDs are also in a unique position to practice out-of-the-box-thinking, bring a broader perspective to expand the management’s possible “tunnel vision.” Hence, besides changeability and inquisitiveness, BoDs should have the breadth of knowledge & the "T-shaped" expertise, bring up an outlier’ view with cognitive capabilities to share the unique insight of the varying topics in the boardroom. Here are a set of leadership quality and personal traits which can improve directorship effectiveness and leadership influence.
a Inquisitiveness - ask insightful questions about strategy, leadership, and outcomes.
b Holistic Thinking -the ability to see the big picture.
c Decisiveness - ability to make unbiased decisions.
d Mentorship - willingness to act as a coach and advisor to the executive
e Visioning and communication - ability to convey the vision and articulate the fresh viewpoint
f Creativity - practice “out-of-the-box” thinking to close blind spots
g Independent-mindedness -make sound judgments based on their own thinking & decision capability
h Problem-solving capability - measurable contributions in areas of optimal problem-solving.

How will new board members be assessed to determine digital “fit” with the desired boardroom culture? The best fit for the board depends on the board’s current makeup and culture, as well as which gap needs to be filled. Choosing someone based on only one criterion may limit the board's full potential. Generally speaking, the digital fit starts with mind fit. The digital fitting BoD is about mental toughness, with fitting minds and fresh eyes. BoDs and top leadership teams make a significant influence on shaping the digital mindset, it requires that you move from mindset to mind flow, from fixed mind to growth mind. Digital is the age of innovation. No longer are boards sitting in a room and just voting on various policies, to focus on compliance only, Entrepreneurialism or intrapreneurialism is a constructive emotion that inspires to develop the culture of creativity in the boardroom and rolling down to the organization. In addition, the composition of boards should reflect approximately the profile of the company' stakeholders: Shareholders, employees, customers, and suppliers. An inclusive board is composed of the digital fitting BoDs who are independent thinkers, unbiased communicators, wise advisors, flexible facilitator, and global leaders these days in order to build the desired high-performance culture and develop the creative atmosphere.

Generally, what tends to be the biggest gaps and “blind spots” to close in achieving the board maturity? Due to the “VUCA” digital new normal, the real BoD’s dilemma is that driving the business forward is extremely difficult, it means looking into an unknown future and attempting to define the landscape with its risks and opportunities. There are many blind spots clouding the vision and there are numerous roadblocks and hidden pitfalls on the way. Decision maturity is one of the significant challenges facing either BoDs or any digital leaders today. Every decision requires a different way of thinking. Hence, it is critical for digital BoDs to practice multifaceted thinking (critical thinking, independent thinking, strategic thinking, and innovative thinking, etc.) skills for improving decision effectiveness and avoid group thinking. Further, with fast-growing information and emergent digital technologies, the board should become more IT-friendly and digital savvy. They need to identify the new director candidates with leadership potential, sound judgment, technological vision, unique insight, and extensive experience for bridging multiple gaps and close varying blindspots, in order to improve boardroom effectiveness and maturity.

While directors bring many competencies to the table, they should keep learning agile and master digital fluency, adapting to the increasing speed of changes and the exponential growth of information. Digital BoDs understand what's required and how as a high-level basis of going digital mean to the business, so they can make a significant impact on accelerating digital transformation by taking a step-wise approach and with the steadfast speed.


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