Thursday, June 10, 2021


Insightful corporate board as a top leadership team provides strategic oversight, exemplifies leadership influence and sets principles & policies for accelerating business performance continuously.

Leadership is about the future and direction, innovation, and progress, which are all based on a clear vision and profound insight. The senior leadership such as the corporate board is neither the status quo nor a ceremonial role only, 

It is collegiality, respect, transparency, and competence that allow a board to be effective, and it is strategic insight, sound judgment, and interdisciplinary expertise that represent a high level of leadership maturity.

Cognitive competency: The "mind" represents our consciousness and awareness. Cognition involves exploring varieties of meanings or thoughts, abandoning old connections and establishing new relations to shape a digital fitting mindset. In the era with exponential growth of information, complexity and ever-changing business dynamic, sound judgment is a hardcore leadership competency and the prerequisite quality for being a senior leader. The challenge for the board leaders is how to discern information they trust and how they make effective decisions consistently, and in the senior position, how they stay on strategic focus rather than tactical details only. Cognitive competency refers to critical thinking, growth mindset, logic, or creativity, etc. Board leaders with cognitive competency have the ability to seek out relevant knowledge, gain an in-depth understanding of multifaceted situations, address ignorance and assumptions to minimize them for making sound judgments.

People with cognitive competency form critical opinions based on facts, discerned data, common understanding, and clarified notions. This is particularly critical for top business leaders such as BoDs. Without discernment and cognitive competency, the blind spots will cloud your vision, trigger negative emotion, cause decision ineffectiveness, and compromise leadership competency. Discernment requires the ability to be the witness in situations, speaks more to using both perception and analysis to make best decisions from the greater dimension of knowledge, understanding, and awareness. BoDs with cognitive competency can provide excellent feedback which gives the top management accurate information to improve; great questions to contemplate, and keen insight to improve management discipline.

Interdisciplinary oversight: Modern corporate boards play significant roles in guiding businesses in the right direction and overseeing business strategy. BoDs who can bring the outliers’ fresh eyes, out-of-box thinking, and interdisciplinary expertise are in strong demand - give an overview, and also be able to "drill down" into specific topics. More often than not, senior leaders need to be good problem framers at the strategic level, to handle complex problems with many interdependent pieces, facilitate and understand the scope of answers and constraints. In order to frame the right problem and solve it in a systematic way, the shift from linear logic or analytics to nonlinear thinking and interdisciplinarity is an evolution because it encourages looking at the wider aspects around any problem space and then understanding the effect of imposing boundaries within that space.

Digital transformation represents a break from the past, with a high level of impact and complexity. With overloading information and shortened knowledge lifecycle, in order to make sound judgment and advise, today’s corporate board directors should open minded and inclusive to capture varying perspectives, gain empathy from another point of view, be more flexible to share the “right” things with management, and be open to the complementary viewpoint. Their interdisciplinary oversight is crucial to identify and strengthen the weakest link in strategy management, laser focus on the most critical perspectives to steer the business in the right direction,

Advising & coaching: Corporate boards advise, mentor, and monitor business management with the ability to listen & observe; to ask probing open questions; to understand other party’s perspectives with an openness in discussion, and to set the right culture tone for the organization’s growth. Trust for transparent performance is only possible if culture is nurtured formally or informally, by the leaders at the top who support an open and trusting work environment and enforce consistency throughout the organization.

Great leadership includes mentoring capability, and excellent mentorship is both art and science. The mentoring style BoD leaders are not about providing all the answers, but about facilitating continuous dialogues and helping management see the trees without missing the forest and drive transformative changes. The mentor style board directors play a critical role in developing next-generation leaders and help the current leadership stay attuned to the realities of their industry and business ecosystem.

We are living in a complex world with continuous changes and disruptions, business problems becoming over-complex and interconnected, making it impossible to have complete knowledge and understanding of many issues. Learning, coaching, and practicing leadership are methodical processes that are improved by constant practice. The corporate board as a top leadership team provides strategic oversight, exemplifies leadership influence and sets principles&policies for accelerating business performance continuously.


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