Organized anarchy vs. dialogue with dignity

A shared sense of meaning is the foundation for a high-performing board and the board/CEO relationship. When the board and executive team, via the CEO, do not share an embodied mutual commitment to success, there is a good chance for organized anarchy.* Anarchy is certainly a strong term that is not heard in the same context as financial institution leadership. Here is the context:

  • Organizations not governed by leadership are typically influenced by two loud board voices that overshadow other board members.
  • Social loafing, often at a 71% level, increases. Board members relax in their seats and let the two loudest voices lead by influence.
  • The executive management team does what it thinks is best yet often has to work around an entrenched board to move forward strategically.
  • The CEO organizes with great care on how ideas are presented to hopefully gain the confidence of the two loudest voices so other board members come along. This governance style is governance of two, not board governance.
  • External influencers, perhaps the disenchantment of a couple of external influencers, override the concern of the collective.

Organized hierarchy, in the context of board leadership, may be explicit and planned action, and yet we often see it as a means of survival that very well may be an unconscious action. How would a board know? The answer to that is difficult because blind spots are hidden; we just don’t see them until a trained observer helps us recognize our patterns.

Find a trained third party that is highly skilled in group dynamics and understands governance to support uncovering blind spots that hinder your success as a sustainable high-performing board and executive leadership team. Consider scheduling one day a year for the board to regroup and reflect on its leadership.

Deliberate dialogue with dignity is the key – there is no right or wrong – because, I believe, we do our best on the board and as CEOs. A few hours together in facilitated conversation is like magic pixie dust for a fantastic board experience.

*Governance as Leadership by Chait, Ryan, and Taylor

Deedee Myers

Deedee Myers

Deedee Myers is founder and CEO of DDJ Myers, Ltd. and co-founder of the Advancing Leadership Institute. For the past 20 years, she has been passionate about establishing and developing ... Web: Details