Steven R. Walker, director of board advisory services at the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD), writes that some organizations have a board composed of strong, experienced directors, but management does not feel the directors are as engaged as they could be. Walker urges directors to have an open dialogue with management about their respective roles and responsibilities. He remarks, "Directors need to understand their role, [and] they need to understand how to effectively use the skills they bring to the boardroom and how they can best act as mentors and guides. Directors should be encouraged to offer ideas that the management team simply may not have considered."
Walker further stresses the importance of board members truly getting to know each other. NACD recommends that a board develop a "skillsets matrix," which is an ongoing and living document that identifies the top 10 to 15 characteristics its directors need in order to achieve the current and future goals of the organization. Leadership's task then becomes to assess how many of those characteristics each of its current directors possesses. Walker concludes, "Once you've established the skillsets matrix and are constantly tracking what skills are needed and which board members have those skills, you remove the thorns from succession planning because you have been proactive as a board and have established a constant, open dialogue. This is a team exercise where the board is constantly evaluating whether they have the right members on the board and the right skillsets."
Metropolitan Corporate Counsel (09/13)