Tuesday, December 10, 2019

An Accountable Corporate Board

The corporate board director with an accountability mind is learning agile, wise, courageous, resilient, and high mature.

Due to the complexity of today’s business, faster-paced changes, and continuous disruptions and distractions, there is a multitude of organizational gaps existing in today’s organization. It is important to articulate the strategic rationale behind the business venture, make leaders accountable for implementing the strategy.

The corporate board plays a significant role in taking ultimate accountability to shareholders and the account for the performance and conformance of the organization, for the effectiveness of the direction, the oversight provided, and for the timeliness and caliber of action taken by the governing body.

Accountability needs a safe environment; that starts with leaders at the top: Accountability goes hand in hand with the delegation of authority or power. Accountability is part of personal integrity. If you ensure the individuals have the autonomy within their tasks, you will be able to address performance on an equal partnership base. Digital organizations are flatter, with an “every individual as a stakeholder” culture. The spirit comes from the top, the corporate board sets the tone to enforce accountability. Organizations have to consciously fight against establishing a culture of no accountability.

In practice, accountability needs to be well embedded in the organizational culture. Behaving accountable is the result of culture with values that need to be organized and nurtured. The corporate board helps to oversee a performance management system that encourages responsible communication, enhances open door listening, enforces accountability, improves decision-making effectiveness, harnesses process transparency ("we have a problem to solve together") with the intention to build on morale and real productivity; advocate open leadership and mutual sharing in successes of building a high-performance business.

Demonstrate better awareness to ask tough questions: Digital transformation is all about shaping high- performing and high mature digital organizations. It is the effectiveness of the Board of Directors in delegating to the senior management team and holding them accountable that supports the management team in achieving outcomes. There are some structural issues with accountability. If one is to hold another accountable (peer or subordinate) for achieving some result, there is a set of conditions that must be fulfilled in advance on the "receiver" side.

Digital leaders with accountability have the right dose of risk appetite and a good attitude to manage risks in a structural way and make a shift from risk avoidance to risk mitigation to risk intelligence. Digital leaders with accountability will ask big “WHY” to clarify vision and strategic goals. The leader fails, explicitly or even implicitly, to acknowledge what they are accountable for a situation or demonstrate a willingness to explore legitimate systemic issues beyond the performance. When digital leaders are equipped with the ownership mentality, they have better self-awareness, not afraid to know the “actual state” of the business, and get a holistic understanding of the company and navigate change effectively.

Leadership accountability is about the wisdom and courage: Accountability is to be wise and brave enough as a leader to remove and change in time before the problem becomes overwhelming. Lack of accountability is often one of the biggest obstacles to get things done or cause change inertia. In fact, accepting responsibility is when we prove our values and build our trust.

One of the "obstacles" is not having the same rules for accountability applying everywhere. Therefore, the corporate board has to contemplate about how to bridge the accountability gaps and improve the business manageability to encourage responsible communication, decision-making, and action, with the intention to build morale and improve leadership maturity cohesively. 

Besides calculating and managing risks, accountability can be harnessed by motivating employees to achieve higher than expected results and build a culture of learning, trust, and risk-taking. Shared accountability or collective accountability involves shared ownership, empathetic communication. In fact, the true measure of accountability is about resilience.

Leadership and accountability must go hand in hand. Teams of any kind will follow only if the leader is accountable. To step further, accountability is not only to accept the responsibility for what you DO - the actions or behaviors, but also what you SAY - the knowledge sharing or feedback giving, in order to build a culture of accountability. Digital leadership is the adventure to explore unknown, and has confidence and insight for steering the organization on the right path of reaching the destination.  The corporate board director with an accountability mind is learning agile, wise, courageous, resilient, and high mature.


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