Founder-Led Guidelines from Board Veritas

The Founder-led Future: When the CEO Steps Down

Q. Why is it so important to ensure a smooth transition when a Founder exits?
A. It instills confidence with the membership or customer base  – which affects a company’s culture and bottom line.

 

On the heels of the Amazon announcement that its CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos was stepping down, it left other company creators intrigued. How will the process of untangling the influence of a Founder, in a Founder-led organization, work?  Is it more or less difficult with companies of a different scale? If you’ve effectively managed “Founder’s Syndrome” during the leader’s tenure, can the issue still arise during succession?

Founder’s Syndrome (also founderitis) is the difficulty faced by organizations where one or more founders maintain disproportionate power and influence following the effective initial establishment of the organization, leading to a wide range of problems.
Founder’s Syndrome” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, January 2021

Any leadership transition works best when the change is anticipated and addressed in the company’s succession plan.

Since every organization is different, there is no tried and true manual that can successfully prepare you for a Founder exit or transition, since things like relational dynamics, scale and other dependencies can factor in.  However there are some guidelines that can help Boards prioritize their agenda. Here are three things that organizations must do to move on successfully after a Founder steps down:

  1. Honor the legacy of the founder’s journey and show that the incoming leader has the Founder’s full support
  2. Put the organization’s needs first while honoring the founder’s legacy from a peripheral standpoint
  3. Communicate consistently with staff and stakeholders regarding updates throughout the transition
  4. Revisit the organization’s Mission and Vision with the strategic direction of the new leader
  5. Return to the business plan: be clear about the new direction and anticipated shifts with the new leadership
  6. Identify how the reporting structure and operational lines of business may change
  7. Visualize the culture and communicate regularly and effectively with staff to promote a shared vision

Founder-led organizations can benefit from Board Veritas’ free webinar on Fine Tuning Your Mission and Vision statement, on February 24, 2021.

For more information on hiring a Board Veritas Advisor or details about our service offerings and training, please contact:

Board Veritas
Maura O’Neill,

Board Veritas Team Member

The Board Matrix: Scary Concept or Long Overdue Diversity Tool?

The quest for strong, diversified representation on corporate boards recently reached a tipping point after Nasdaq’s announcement that it aims to require Nasdaq-listed companies to reveal their board composition (using a board matrix showing race and gender statistics as a condition of listing).   

Companies listed on the exchange reads the proposal, must have “at least two diverse directors, including one who self-identifies as a woman and one who self-identifies as either an underrepresented minority or LGBTQ.”

“We’ve slid backwards with respect to equity on boards, and there are overwhelmingly more white people than any others,”
Lisa Anne Thompson Taylor, CEO of Board Veritas

Shortly after the announcement a new star was born: The Board Matrix.  Not because it was new, but because it received national recognition to a degree that was unprecedented.  Anyone serving on a board seemed to take notice.

Will nonprofit organizations soon follow what could turn out to be a new corporate must-have?

Although critics deemed Nasdaq’s proposal a “stunt,” implying that its CEO, Adena Friedman, is using the diversity consulting firm Equilar for more than just merely as a strategic partner, it still highlights a conversation about board transformation.

“We’ve slid backwards with respect to equity on boards, and there are overwhelmingly more white people than any others,” says Lisa Thompson Taylor, Board Veritas CEO, a board governance and coaching company based in Washington, DC.  Thompson adds: “there is little racial equity within NGOs with the exception of international organizations where we’ve seen strong representation due to the need for local representation in countries where they’re active.”

Board Veritas anticipates proposals front the incoming Biden administration on diversity, gender, equity and worker constituent representation. “We expect the Biden Administration to harness the talent of under-represented communities in the context of executive and board leadership,” says Thompson.

For a free 30-minute assessment, contact us today!Board Veritas
Maura O’Neill,

Board Veritas Team Member
202-478-6781

5 Board Retreat Predictions for 2021

What Can We Expect in 2021?

If there was a time in history when a board retreat was as necessary as it was criticized, it began in 2020. In previous years, an organization might have come under fire for mismanaging funds and splurging on retreats while burning a hole through the annual budget and even charitable funds. This year, it was the sheer interest in meeting in-person and spreading a potentially deadly disease that understandably drew the most ire from the public. 

The board retreat had, for the most part, retreated.

Ordinarily, a well-managed Board Retreat is meant to be productive and encourage a diverse group to find common ground in a neutral environment. Planning and hosting a retreat (a feat in itself) also serves as a “thank you” from the organization for the past 12 months of (often) volunteer board leadership, whether it be financial, operational or strategic guidance.  

“Our clients are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that more alternatives will be available in 2021, which could make the board retreat a reality again,” said Lisa Anne Thompson Taylor, president of Board Veritas, a board governance and training firm in Washington, DC.

Our clients are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and that more alternatives will be available in 2021.
Lisa Anne Thompson Taylor, president of Board Veritas.

In 2021, however, we’ll start to see more urgency for peer-to-peer interaction and addressing unprecedented make-or-break issues that need immediate action. How exactly can that be carried out if most of the world is under heavy quarantine? 

Here are 5 Board Retreat predictions for 2021 that are starting to materialize in these highly unusual circumstances:

  • Easy, Rapid Testing for Retreat Attendees
    Add thermometers as a line item… some organizations are requiring that attendees be tested twice –  3 days before the event and once more on-site (with a temperature check) to ensure the safety of all participants.
  • Virtual Board Retreats Will Feature State-of-the-Art Programs and Training Exercises Using Emerging Tech
    Organizations will take steps to “move their board retreat online” and direct funds this year to enhancing virtual platforms or Virtual Reality software on-site, to continue maintaining distance.
  • “Mind, Body Health”- Themed Retreats Will Get More Creative
    Organizations will implement best practices into their retreat framework… opening with meditations, visualizations interspersing physical activity between sessions and providing healthy and plant based menus as standard. Leaders will choose to draw inspirations from natural settings and the resilience of nature instead of a conference room
  • More Hotels Will Offer Unique On-site Alternatives to Stay Distanced
    Social distancing retreats are “the new luxury,” travel expert John DiScala recently told CNBC. where keyless, no-interaction check-in procedures are de rigueur. Isolated, outdoor locations with amenities will stay in demand
  • Retreat Planners Will Be More Strategic in Geographic Location
    Carefully considering the methods and time of travel will dictate the geography – the more isolated the better.

For more information on hiring a Board Veritas Advisor or details about our service offerings and training, please contact:

Board Veritas
Maura O’Neill,

Board Veritas Team Member

How Boards are Putting a Lid On Bad Board Behavior

 Instituting Rules Across The Board

How does a racist image “make its way” onto an organization’s website?  What does a board do when an errant social media post by a CXO lands the organization’s leadership in hot water?  These are just some examples of real life stories recently featured in the news that has the public, and the organization itself, wondering: “how could this have happened?”

On any given day, we get calls by board leaders who are faced with unprecedented HR situations that need to be solved in the short-term.

Traditionally, contacting a crisis communication firm would be the first call by a board leader (and a public statement ensuring it “will never happen again”), but that has changed, says Board Veritas’ CEO Lisa Anne Thompson Taylor. Taylor believes targeting the root of the problem at the board level is just as vital as response messaging in a crisis, if not more.  

There seems to be more “Leadership Dont’s” than ever before as organizations and their leaders are more exposed to risk and one reason they’re familiarizing themselves with the governance audit.

“On any given day, we get calls by board leaders who are faced with unprecedented HR situations that need to be solved in the short-term.  Unfortunately, that often means termination but it doesn’t always have to end that way.”

Think of Taylor as “the fixer.” Her firm, Board Veritas offers in-person and online training workshops that include sessions such as “Reducing Bad Board Behavior,” and “Strategic Doing.”

If you’ve ever wondered about those “third party” firms that are brought in during a toxic tweet storm, Board Veritas leads a growing number of them that perform governance audits and leadership coaching – tasked with keeping leadership accountable and working towards a common goal.

If you’ve ever wondered about those “third party” firms that are brought in during a toxic tweet storm, Board Veritas leads a growing number of them that performs governance audits and leadership coaching…

Not all of Board Veritas’ clients are dealing with crises, but they are preparing themselves in case of an unexpected event.  Here are a few ways to ensure that all of your board members are working together:

1. Include The Right Language in Your Social Media Policy

You always want some type of verbiage in your Board Materials that speak to a member’s responsibility – detailing what is appropriate and inappropriate content to share on behalf of the organization, and the board member’s relative channels, such as a blog or Facebook/Instagram/Twitter posts.  Your organization’s internal policy should include consequences for violation of the policy as well as an explanation for why it is in place. The document should be shared at board and staff orientations and be a part of the employee handbook and board materials.

Establishing and maintaining boundaries with staff and volunteers takes away the guess work on what is and what isn’t appropriate to share when using social media.

2. Don’t Assume That Every Board Member Knows They Have A Responsibility

Using Best Practices and communicating them regularly (Do’s and Don’ts of social media) or a discussion about a recent item in the news is a good way of reinforcing the seriousness of what could go wrong.  Communicating the responsibility of each board member is vital to all if stakeholders want to move in tandem in a positive direction.

3. Address Board Conflicts on Social Media Immediately

Assembling an internal task force or committee to investigate the matter, hiring a third party, or a crisis communications consultant are frequent methods boards can use to address a controversial issue that could have long-term consequences.

However you address a serious situation caused by a misstep by one individual, it’s essential to act fast and treat the matter with the highest importance.  Understanding and communicating the full timeline of events leading up to the event and a summary of facts to board leadership, in addition to calls and follow-ups will offset confusion during a potentially tumultuous period.

 

For more information on hiring a Board Veritas Advisor or details about our service offerings and training, please contact:

Board Veritas
Maura O’Neill,
  Administrative Assistant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do Board Members Want For the Holidays?

This year, COVID changed all the rules. Offering thanks to volunteer leadership was no exception.

Normally an organization would have numerous options like hosting a dinner or a board retreat to pay tribute to the professionals who guided staff and leadership into bluer waters. But this holiday season, organizations are faced with yet another challenge – identifying what board members really want for the holidays (and into the New Year).  We asked Board Veritas partners and board clients what they thought a perfect gift would be for a board member and here’s what we found:

Honor A Board Member’s Time

Board of Directors Best Practices

 

Be intentional about honoring a board member’s time and help them to help you by prioritizing matters that need attention first. Delivering actionable information and legible reports (not an avalanche of data), reporting and other information is one way a board member’s time can be valued.

The Gift of Learning

Building new skills is important to almost everyone and you can help build your assets in any organization. Board Veritas offers numerous learning modules to boost knowledge in an number of areas like finance, fundraising and maintaining relevance with new programs like Board Veritas’ Strategic Doing workshop.  For more Board Veritas offerings, see our training options.

Strategic Doing isn’t about fixing an old system – it’s about designing what’s next.

Make Individual Acknowledgements for Time and Talent

A board member has invested time and effort into your organization so it only makes sense to acknowledge not just the group but individual efforts when celebrating successes. A press release quoting the board member who is responsible for a big success, calling attention to the person in a speech, website or newsletter or strongly considering their choice for a board retreat are just some of the ways you can call attention to a positive contributions. 

Celebrate Successes

Board Thank Yous

 

It’s been a difficult year and not many are in the mood to celebrate.  But even the smallest successes deserve some credit. Whether it is a successful public relations campaign, recruiting new members or sponsors or a dynamic addition to the staff, it’s important to encourage continued tenaciousness of getting to the finish line in any measure.

 

 

If you’d like to know more about Board Veritas’ programs, contact us today!Board Veritas
Maura O’Neill,

Board Veritas Team Member
202-478-6781