The Role of the Chairman of the Board Is to Co-Build Decisions with the Directors
Bruno de Roulhac
Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Marc Sanglé-Ferrière is quoted on best practices to be a successful board in the L'AGEFI Quotidien article, "The Role of the Chairman of the Board Is to Co-Build Decisions with the Directors." The article is excerpted below.
A global study by Russell Reynolds provides best practices for the most effective boards. Work, listening and self-reliance are key.
How to become a successful board? The global study conducted by Russell Reynolds for the second year among the boards of 750 companies provides suggestions for improvement.
First of all, a director must work. On average, 200 hours per year per board, excluding commuting and social time. Also, "an executive director can in practice only sit on one external board," explained Marc Sanglé-Ferrière, managing director and co-head of Russell Reynolds' CEO & Board business in Europe. "An essential mandate, which allows a CEO or general manager to take a step back and help them to do their executive work better."
The best-performing boards focus on the future and value-creating activities. They work on the strategic vision, M&A transactions, and succession plans for the executive and management team. On the other hand, they do not go beyond what is necessary on the matters of account review, compliance and audit. "Boards that outperform, manage risks in terms of the future and the opportunities offered, and not only in a compliance approach," added Marc Sanglé-Ferrière.
To function properly, the board must bring together skills related to the organization's strategy and risks. However, gender diversity does not appear to differentiate in the study. "Directors must think for themselves, think about the issues and give their opinion," stated Marc Sanglé-Ferrière. They must listen to each other and make decisions together. And in case of debate, they should stay focused on the issue and not digress."
Also, the role of the chairman is paramount. "Their mission is to transform a sum of individual minds into a collective mind," Marc Sanglé-Ferrière added. "In their role as facilitators, they should not impose an opinion on directors but help them generate different points of view before reaching a consensus. Their talent will be to co-build a decision, which will be that of the board and not their own."
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