Over the weekend I spent three days with over 400 leaders from across the community sector, sharing ideas on governance, strategy and social entrepreneurship. Across the range of sessions and speakers at the Better Boards conference, and in chatting one on one with delegates, I picked up so many thoughts and ideas that will be really valuable for me in working with and on boards.
Here are three big ideas that stood out for me and what’s now on my reading list to take these ideas further.
1. Driven by purpose
Entrepreneur and futurist Aaron Hurst spoke powerfully on his view that purpose will be the new driver of the global economy. People will be driven by purpose in deciding what to buy, where to work, how to work, what relationships they create. This will be just as relevant in the commercial world as the community sector.
Purpose comes from
- Doing something greater than yourself
- Personal growth and challenge
Imperative offers a tool to help identify our own source of purpose. Having individual board or team members use the tool, then share and discuss their own drivers could be a powerful way to understand and harness purpose to drive performance.
What’s on my reading list: The Purpose Economy by Aaron Hurst
2. Social not structural
Brian Herd and Elizabeth Jameson both highlighted that the key to board effectiveness is social and not structural. (Interestingly, they are both lawyers – busting myths about lawyers being all about rules and structure and not about people!)
High performing boards are robust, effective social systems. They are able to harness the benefit of diverse views around the table, to have constructive dissent.
They can come together as a group of individuals, understand what motivates each of them to be on the board, and how they best work together as a group. Each director takes individual responsibility, and as a group they hold each other accountable. This requires self-awareness, self-disclosure and effective group dynamics.
What’s on my reading list: What Makes Boards Great by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld
3. Being mindful with your eyes open
Meditation and mindfulness have been demonstrated to have significant health benefits. Robert Gordon encouraged us to explore how it can also create more effective board directors by enabling focus and creative thinking – great assets for strategic analysis.
There is great benefit in regular meditation (mindfulness with your eyes closed), but also in actively focussing on the present, on where you are now (mindfulness with your eyes open).
Mindfulness is about purposefully paying attention, being in the present. There is some evidence that it can assist in better decision making, for example focusing on the reality of what’s in front of you can help overcome sunk-cost bias by focusing on the present moment and not getting caught up in the past.
What’s on my reading list: the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle