When Does a Board Leader Get Stale?


Agenda | May 13, 2019

The Agenda article, "When Does a Board Leader Get Stale?" qouted Russell Reynolds Associates Consultant Anthony Goodman as well as featured the firm's report, "Insights into US Independent Board Leaders." The article, which is excerpted below, discusses the idea of stagnation in leadership and the proportion of women directors on the board

Among the S&P 500, women serve as lead directors at 8% of companies, according to a new report from Russell Reynolds Associates. The firm also found that, on average, women in board leader roles — either lead director or board chair — served on the board more than a year longer than their male counterparts before becoming a board leader. As with all statistics related to women directors, however, the small pool to start with is a factor.

Anthony Goodman, a consultant in Russell Reynolds’s CEO and board advisory group, points out that there are several layers to addressing the issue of diversity in committee-chair and other leadership roles.

First, timing is often an issue, he says. On average, various research shows directors serve about five years in committee chair roles and six as audit chair, but rotating people around — including the lead director or board chair — isn’t always possible, given the way the board is composed. Moreover, other factors such as directors’ retiring or new directors’ being recruited may take precedence and capture the board’s attention. Additionally, Goodman says one of the biggest problems he sees in his work with boards is when the nom-gov chair has been in the role for years and has an eroding skill set, making it more difficult for the board to create refreshment and leadership opportunities when the chair is also in charge of replacing directors.

“That’s one to watch out for,” Goodman says. “Treat all of the board committees as important and don’t allow fiefdoms to get built up in any of them.”

To read the full article, click here

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When Does a Board Leader Get Stale?