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The ultimate board development cheat sheet

So you were inspired by our last blog to put a board development plan in place but you don’t know where to start? This cheat sheet will help you put a structure on your board development plans.

What does board development mean?

We take board development to mean anything which helps your board undertake their role more effectively. This might include initiatives such as

  • Formal training
  • Briefings
  • Papers, magazines or articles
  • Sharing experiences
  • Being challenged appropriately

Effective board development includes:

10 Reasons you should invest in board development

We work with a diverse range of clients in the private, public and charity sectors. The most effective organisations we work with really invest in their boards, and encourage continual learning in the boardroom. We asked them why they felt board development was so important and this is what they told us:

6 governance tools every board member should be using

We’re often asked if there are any easy fixes for governance. While the process of embedding a positive corporate culture is not quick and requires real investment, there are a number of simple tools which will greatly improve your organisation’s governance. Our top 6 are:

  1. A governance calendar

Setting all meeting dates for the year, and ensuring all the key actions are listed in a way that creates flow, can make a real difference.

Vision and Values – the key foundations of leading governance

Effective governance needs to be developed by both strong heads and strong hearts.  If the Chair, CEO, and board members don’t lead the board and the organisation with strong values, why should anyone else in the organisation do their job in the right way?  There is a need to ensure focus on the common good rather than on self-interest.  A values driven organisation has measures of success that include the well-being of all of its people, and the role of managers shifts in balance towards empowerment and support, and away from control.

FIFA scores a governance own goal

I came across this photo of the FIFA boardroom a while back, and thought “That will come in handy for the next time FIFA hits the headlines with another bribery and corruption scandal”. In my mind it was inevitable, it was just a question of when.

10 things that make a great board

This week we were chatting about some of the boards we’re working with.  We were teasing out the differences between the inspiring ones and the boards which are struggling.  We’re certainly convinced that the Chair has a key role in leading board brilliance – they set the tone and lead by example.  We came up with our top 10 things that those inspiring boards do when they are well led:

Focusing Boardroom Thinking with Mindfulness – 6 practical tips

I’m sure we’ve all had the experience of driving on a journey without noticing what’s around us (we can’t remember noticing landmarks, direction signs, beautiful views) because we’re preoccupied with our thoughts – about an argument we had a few days ago, a meeting coming up tomorrow, a conference presentation next month. 

These days, many of us are tuning into the practice of mindfulness to help us to really notice what’s going on around us, be aware of how it’s impacting on us, and focus our attention on what’s important at the time. It can help to manage stress, and to keep us focused. In eastern culture, the practice has been used for many years. Recently it seems to have become very popular everywhere.

Better Board Meetings – challenging behaviour in the boardroom

We all want to go to board meetings where a group of competent people discuss issues and challenge each other in constructive ways to agree decisions for the good of the organisation. The board is a team, and like all teams it consists of individuals with their own styles, attitudes and behaviours.  A good Chair will recognise this, and work to bring out the best in each board member. There may also be times when they need to manage conflict or bad behaviours in the boardroom.

Some of the personalities you may find in the boardroom include:

Better board meetings - the role of the Chair

The Chair has a very specific role in meetings. We have already discussed their role in setting the agenda. When it comes to running the meeting, the Chair is like the conductor of an orchestra, with responsibility for getting the best from every participant.

The board represents the leadership of the organisation, and the Chair is the leader of the board. Their role is to ensure the board as a whole considers issues, and reaches decisions. The Chair does not make unilateral decisions, impose their will, or unduly influence the opinions of other board members. A good Chair has excellent listening skills, and is able to bring people together constructively. They encourage everyone to voice their opinion, and gives everyone time and space to do this, even if the view differs from their own. If you are chairing a meeting, the following pointers may help you to help your fellow board members.


The way in which the Chair opens the meeting sets its tone. The Chair should arrive at least 15 minutes before the meeting is due to start. This allows the Chair time to ensure all their papers are in order. It also allows for time to chat informally with other board members as they arrive. Start the meeting when it is due to start by asking everyone to take their seats. Don’t delay the meeting to wait for latecomers. If you do, the likelihood is that there will be even more stragglers at the next meeting.

Better board meetings – board papers

In the third of our series on effective board meetings, we’re looking at board papers. We know that the board pack should be distributed at least a week in advance of the meeting, but what should be in it?

  1. Meeting notice

The meeting notice is the covering letter for the board pack. It should state when and where the meeting will be held, and list the other papers in the pack.