The Power of Effective Governance

governance leadership management Nov 01, 2023

Are you ready to take your leadership and decision-making to the next level? In a recent episode of The High Performance Leader Podcast, I had the pleasure of speaking with Julian Smith, a seasoned board member and governance expert. We delved into the world of governance and why it's crucial for leaders striving for high performance.

In the world of leadership, the role of governance often remains a mystery to many. Julian Smith, with his extensive experience, shed light on the significance of understanding governance dynamics and how it can impact the success of any organization.

Building Strong Relationships Between Executives and Boards

One key takeaway from our conversation was the importance of fostering strong relationships between executives and boards. In most cases, there might be tension or frustration between these two groups. Julian emphasized that this tension often indicates a lack of cultural alignment. Culture starts at the top of the organization, and the way the board and executive team interact sets the tone for the entire organization.

For leaders aiming to perform at their best, understanding the governance structure and developing positive relationships with the board is critical. Boards are not just about governance; they play a significant role in setting the culture of the organization, affecting its overall success.

Governance and Management: Understanding the Difference

Another key insight from our conversation was the difference between governance and management. Governance focuses on the long-term strategic vision of the organization, while management deals with day-to-day operations. Boards are responsible for holding the executive accountable, ensuring compliance, and creating a leadership environment that allows employees to thrive.

For those with governance aspirations, it's essential to recognize these distinctions and understand that governance roles are often more about working on the business, not in the business. As a governor, you play a pivotal role in overseeing and guiding the organization's direction.

Transitioning to Governance Roles

If you're considering transitioning to governance roles, Julian provided some valuable advice. First, identify your motivations and explore what interests you about governance. Understanding your passion for this field is crucial.

If you don't have prior experience with boards, reaching out to seasoned board members or securing an introduction can help you gain insights and learn about the role of directors. Attending events organized by professional bodies for directors can provide a solid introduction to governance.

For those looking to dip their toes into governance, Julian recommended starting with not-for-profit boards in areas you're passionate about. Not-for-profit boards often offer opportunities for learning without requiring extensive governance education upfront.

De-risking Your Transition

As you consider a transition to governance roles, it's vital to assess your financial situation. Transitioning from an executive career to governance can lead to a significant drop in income. To mitigate risk, ensure that you have sufficient financial stability and can cover your expenses without relying solely on board fees. Maintaining personal financial stability will also give you the flexibility to resign from a board if you ever feel uncomfortable or lose confidence in the organization's governance.

In the ever-evolving landscape of leadership, understanding governance and its impact is a key component of high performance. Julian Smith's insights shed light on the importance of positive board-executive relationships, distinguishing between governance and management, and making a successful transition to governance roles.

For a deeper dive into this critical aspect of leadership, check out the full podcast episode. Your journey to becoming a high-performance leader may just get the boost it needs with these insights into the world of governance.


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