You Can’t Always Choose… Who Is On Your Board

There is currently a great deal of focus on Board composition – quite rightly, given that who sits at the Board table is of major consequence for Board effectiveness. As such Boards and Nominations Committees will invest time, effort and resource in establishing a skill matrix and using that to build a pipeline and rigorous selection process.

As a Board Search consultancy, Fidelio absolutely sees the benefit of a clear focus on composition and much of our discussion with Chairs is on this topic.

But we also recognise that Board composition is not always a lever available to the Chair. For many Boards the appointment of some or all Board Members is in the gift of a particular shareholder or stakeholder. This is often true for corporate Boards with a major or strategic shareholder; Boards of membership organisations which are reflective of that membership; educational bodies with ex officio appointments; as well as regulatory or public sector Boards with government department or local authority representation.

If a Chair cannot influence Board composition, does this also limit the Chair’s ability to increase Board effectiveness? We would argue that Board composition is critically important for Chairs, shareholders and stakeholders and a key contributor to Board effectiveness. When the Chair is constrained with regard to composition, there are nonetheless important steps available to strengthen the cohesion and effectiveness of the Board, including:

  1. Clarity & Role Definition
  2. Commitment to Board Learning
  3. Engagement with Shareholders and Stakeholders

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