I sit on several boards. I enjoy my time on them, as I get to meet new people and learn new things. Although board participation has elements that feel similar to work, in many ways, it feels different than my day job, which is refreshing. I gain a wider perspective and it makes me more valuable at home and in the office.
Recently, one of the boards I’m on asked all its members for their “personal reflection” regarding their last year on the board. You know me…I love reflecting. We were asked to give
responses to a series of questions, and I wrote War and Peace. I’m not sure that’s what they intended to receive, but when I get on a roll reflecting….look out!
The value is in the questions
While the exercise itself was interesting to me (and hopefully the board), it’s the questions that were truly valuable. It made me think about the applicability that an exercise like this would have at work. The second we stop asking questions is the moment we risk becoming irrelevant. I have begun considering the same set of questions as they relate to the business I run. I thought it would be useful to share them with you and potentially help you generate a similar exercise within your businesses.
A meaningful exercise for any business leader
The board posed 5 thought-provoking questions. I’m listing them here, along with how you might consider using them with your team.
- How do we do at onboarding new members? Think about this at work. It could be new teammates, partners or customers. How does it work and how could it improve?
- Are you satisfied with our decision-making process? You could ask this about your team, your business unit or your organization. If you are not satisfied, then what changes would you make?
- What are our greatest strengths and chief weaknesses? Please only list the top 3. This question gets you focused on the most meaningful things. It allows you to talk about capabilities that go into what you do or sell. The key distinction is that it is NOT asking about what you do or sell. Sometimes we do not stop to think about our strengths as a team. This forces us to acknowledge that no one is perfect and we all have weaknesses. It stops short of trying to solve weaknesses and creates awareness for future dialogue.
- What have been your greatest contributions? What is this question really all about? In a word – accountability. Whether you are talking about your role on a board or as a business leader, you have a job to do. Own it and recognize you’re expected to deliver on this. Don’t lose sight of it.
- Do you feel our communication is satisfactory? If not, what specifically would you change? I love this because most activity originates from conversation. We do not spend enough time creating and evaluating our communication process.
Questions that lead to actionable results drive change
It took me about an hour to work through the exercise. When I read what I wrote, I thought it was a very focused set of ideas that were easy to understand – and they were actionable. Now comes the hard part: turning the information we all provided into actionable results. I am passionate about the board I serve and honored to be a member. I have faith this exercise will guide us toward a great future. We have to believe in the process and recognize the best change comes from taking one step at a time. And this is a step I highly recommend.