Steps to Achieving Effective Governance

Steps-to-Achieving- Effective-Governance

Effective governance is achieved by taking a long term view – this can be quite challenging in the face of uncertainty about the future. The temptation can be to make choices based on limited perspectives rather than on the larger picture that would emerge if you seek more information and evidence.

There are four important steps you can take to achieve good governance:

  1. Ask the right questions.   Be curious, inquisitive and hungry for all pieces of the puzzle.
  2. Strive to find the answers to those questions. Shift through what you are seeing and hearing. Is a clearer picture emerging?   Your picture should harmonise with (a) your participation in the governance (b) The purpose, vision and mission of the organisation
  3. Act when the time is right – in the knowledge that you are acting on the best and most comprehensive information available. Do everything possible to make wise decisions.
  4. Stay alert to the environment in which you are operating. Situational awareness is key in a changing environment. This includes paying attention to emotions. Listening out for the emotional climate can help a governing board and the executive team get to the core of what can strengthen or weaken the organisation. Emotions are a very revealing indicator of the condition of the organisation.

If you take the these 4 steps you give yourselves a great chance to succeed and sustain a high level of performance. Even if some decisions do not work out you can gain from the wisdom gleaned from failure.   Clarify what you need, have a clear view of what success will look like and seek the relevant guidance that sheds light on your situation. With an appropriate assessment, an understanding of underlying principles and practical application, anything is possible.

Thinking, Doing & Behaving…Your Ingredients for Board Success

Thinking, Doing  & Behaving…Your Ingredients

Tesse Akpeki Boards Success1.Set Mission-Based Goals  for board meetings
2.Make sure board time is put to good use. Utilise new technologies where appropriate
3.Ensure your intellectual & social capital is tapped
4.Periodically assess “How are we doing?” ask “What are we doing?” & “Why”?
5.Optimising  opportunities (quicker OR better decisions)
6.How often are our brilliant ideas put into play?

Two stands to ‘New’. Lets go for it!

Tesse AkpekiI am sometimes unclear about when to stop saying ‘happy new year’.  Last year someone told me, at the end of January it is best to stop this seasonable compliment.

Two different Greek words  exist for the English word new. Neos refers to something that has recently come into existence, such as a new year. It hadn’t existed before and is brand-new. Kainos speaks of something being renewed rather than brand-new. It contains the idea that there was something “before” that is now coming into the fullness of its true reality.

It is kainos that raises the concept of “new” to a different level, for example to describe or create the future.  In each case, the idea of “new” is that it’s something that previously existed and is now being recreated and restored so that it can be all it was meant to be.

Living out this new future is possible by the goals, targets and purpose we set out before us.  At the end of 2015, what is it that we would have liked to happen?  What is it that we no longer wish for?     It is encouraging that we can do new things, but we can also achieve significant improvements by refreshing or reviving what we already have or hold.  For you what falls into this category?

A Triumph in Volunteering


Tesse Akpeki Leadership Governance Management Bank“So moving”, “inspirational”,  “truly awesome”, “too touching to miss” are words used to describe the artwork ”Blood-Swept Lands and Seas of Red” composed of over 888,246 handmade poppies which has been visited by over 5 million people.  Each poppy represents the death of a British and Commonwealth solder during World War One.    It is also meant to symbolise that human beings are transient .   As I looked at the wonderful artwork I heard a woman say

‘You’ve  got to be there to see it and experience it.  The television does not quite capture  emotional elements of this experience.’

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World Cup lessons Leading with Impact

The last 3 World Cups have been won by European teams – Italy, Spain and now Germany – the first European team that has triumphed on South American Soil.  Following a wait of 24 years, 171 goals and 64 games (in the 2014 World Cup),  the German win seems  celebrate a festival of team work , a team system designed to produce world champions , a team triumph a  demonstration of German engineering.   I found the World cup Finals enthralling to watch – a talented, special and sublime finish with a wonderful goal.
Much has been written about a German system designed to produce world champions utilising an approach that was sought after, planned and carefully crafted .  No one can play a team game alone.  This was all about getting it together as a team.  The Champions,  a team grown from the under 21s    just over six years ago now  offer a golden generation of football talent.  While the winning goal was scored by a substitute and (arguably the best goal to win with a brilliant  technique and outstanding finish), there is no doubting that  the winning side was superbly organised with many talented players who  provided a feast of goals and a German defence without many cracks.

Lesson Learnt

1.    The German team had to sit down have a hard look at who they were, look at other models, take a professional approach and add bits that would sustain success. Redesigning our leadership approaches can be pretty similar

2.    The team gelled together, made sure they had natural finishers and kept their eye on the prize, believing they could do it.  This bears the hallmarks of any effective team working.

3.    The players (and their Coach) oozed calmness even when things did not look that great. I admired their ability to maintain a strong backline and stand firm when weathering the storms of tough matches.

4.    They stepped out.  I love the saying of Jim Rohn, ‘dreams get your started, discipline keeps you going’.   There was no shortage of focus, discipline or belief here.  They believed the best was yet to come!

5.    Succession planning and strengthening the pipeline was key.  The final match was not won in 2 hours, it took vast investments of time, effort, talent, resources and money.   Strong governance and leadership is achieved by investment, not the lack of it.

I wonder what it was that took them over the line in the dying minutes of extra time?  What provided the extra motivation to win?  In board rooms across the world, I suspect the motivations to succeed will be different for each organisation, but without the commitment to succeed, resilience and a clear goal, I think it will be challenging to navigate the storms!


Seven Questions To Get The Board Members You Want

Board service is a gift and a privilege. Do we make it sound as such? Here are some questions you should ask in a board interview to get the best possible board members.

  1. What do you know about our organisation? What more would you like to know? Why are you interested in committing your time and energy to us?
  2. What do you think are the characteristics of a great board member? Which ones do you demonstrate?
  3. Having known the minimum level of time required to serve on the board, can you make a commitment to board service?
  4. Can you tell us about your previous board (or committee) experience ? What were the comfort levels? What were the success touch points? Which ones do you think you can use here?
  5. There will be some activity between board meetings. Would you be willing to commit to beyond just attending board meetings?
  6. Board members bring experience, wisdom, and strategic thinking. How would you like to utilise yours?
  7. What would help make this a really great experience for you?




Decision Making can Be See-Through

Over the last few years I have been exploring diverse ways of building high performance boards. On a practical level this has involved observing approaches that help board members to be more aware of their various roles, responsibilities and duties and applying this understanding to how they perform their roles on the ground. As part of the project I shadowed a few boards in the United States and saw how they recorded their decisions in real time and projected the decisions on the big screen for all to see. I was really struck by this as a lesson in transparency in decision making.

In December last year I came across another board in England that had the same practice and became even more curious about what was behind this practice. I was impressed by the manner in which decisions were arrived at and recorded and found out that this is a familiar practice in Quaker meetings, described as the Quaker Business Method. Following discussion, minutes are written, agreed by everyone within the meeting and remain the unchanged formal record. No ‘matters arising’ occur in future meetings in relation to decisions made.

This practice is referred to in more detail in an accessible publication produced by Quaker Social Action, following a year long enquiry into what the ‘Q’ Bit mean. Quaker Social Action has produced a highly readable booklet called “ The ‘Q’ Bit – At the Heart of a Quaker-led Organisation “. There is a link to the document on the QSA website. Chapter 4 explains the Quaker Business Method, its aims and how it works.


This is an invaluable tool in a kit of any organisation or group wishing to expand its transparency practice. I still marvel at its simplicity and effectiveness!