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.

Refreshing Leadership

As we start afresh in 2017, Tesse Akpeki puts forward 5 ideas to reframe leadership.

Consider the right leadership framework


(1) Develop a healthy positive relationship of mutual respect – which will lead to better communication, the ability to work through disagreements and a partnership where you and can support one another through difficult times.

(2) Be appreciative

(3) Be respectful

Individual knowledge flow sessions

(4) Begin by making a list of the people you must interact with in order to perform your work well. Similar to Group Knowledge Flow Sessions, in meeting with individuals, share your Vision for what relevant actions need to be taken in your interaction with them, who you see as responsible for each action, and when it needs to be completed; ask them to tell you “what’s right, what’s wrong and what’s missing” from your thinking; and consider their ideas and opinions to learn from them and show you value them.

(5)Address incivility and eliminate corrosive behaviour that make people feel devalued and worthless

A New Charity Governance code Proposes Changes

New CodeNew and more detailed guidance included in the draft charity code has an enhanced focus on delivering organisational purpose and direction. Totally new is a separate principle that demonstrates a governance perspective on diversity. The consultation runs until Friday 3 February 2017. Those with an interest in charity governance are being asked to feed back their views on the code.

Proposed new features include recommendations that:

  • Boards will use the code as a tool for continuous improvement, rather than simply as an aide to meet minimum standards
  • Boards promote a culture of prudence with resources but also understand that being overcautious and risk averse is itself a risk.
  • Boards take account of wider voluntary sector in making sure that their charity operates responsibility and ethically
  • Boards regularly review the external environment and assess whether the charity is still relevant. The code recommends trustees consider partnership working, merger or dissolution if others are seen to be fulfilling similar purposes more effectively.

The code also proposes standards in a number of areas, including:

  • Increased expectation in relation to aspects of board composition, dynamics and behaviours with explicit good practice recommendations about board size, frequency of board performance reviews, and trustees’ terms of office.
  • A new emphasis on the chair’s role in promoting good governance
  • Emphasis on board diversity, supporting its leadership and decision-making with a recommendation that larger charities publish an annual statement of the steps they have taken to address the board’s diversity.
  • A presumption that charities should be open in their work, including a public register of trustees’ interests, unless there is good reason not to.
  • Recommendations that charities use their annual report to say how they apply the code and an explanation of any aspects which they do differently.

Rosie Chapman, chair of the code steering group, said:

“Everything the code does is about putting in place the processes and behaviours that mean charities will be better able to deliver their purposes. This version of the code starts from the principle that trustees understand their role and are interested in helping their organisations develop further”.

The draft code and consultation questions are available at www.governancecode.org

Leadership & Diversity – 3 Innovative & Creative Tips on How to Achieve This

tesse akpeki Achieving the diversity that is innovative and creativeThe new Barbie is being remoulded to reflect a broader view of beauty.  The new dolls represent a line that is reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety of looks, body types, skin tones and styles that allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them. Lego, attacked for lack of diversity unveiled a figure in a wheelchair at the London toy fair.

I was so glad that I stayed up to watch the Super Bowl and the half time entertainment. The variety and the sheer splash of talent and colours were very beautiful and touching.

Leadership both at board , staff and volunteer level should reflect the range and variety of talent, experiences and perspectives. Cross- gender teams have been found to be effective, efficient and good at making the best decisions.

My 3 top tips are:

  1. Diverse teams should be talented – tokenistic appointments simply won’t do.
  2. Talent should be channelled for the well being of our boards, our leadership and volunteer teams. There is no need attracting the talent and not using it!
  3. Attracting diversity requires doing things differently and going where we probably have not gone before. For some it may represent a new frontier.  Our teams will be built by simply starting out – taking the first step and learning as we go along. Read  more

Leadership Relationships – for Better or Worse

Tesse AkpekiCan a marriage ever be perfect?     How can the partners  come pretty close to the idea?  Is the purpose of marriage closeness?   Are the partners expected to meet every need each other has got?  A recent survey of thousands of married couples highlights areas for unhappiness which hold lessons for leadership partnerships.

Ten reasons why people said they were unhappy

Continue reading

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?




Delegate for Success

It is a common misconception among Chairs that they must do everything themselves.  However, the Chair who tries to do it all burns out fast – and wastes valuable opportunities to involve other trustees in board support work.  Wise Chairs call on the skills and abilities of their board members, delegating tasks and using their time strategically such as partnering with the Chief Executive to shape the agenda for the Board meeting and liaising with Committee Chairs.   By delegating – while monitoring effectively, the Chair can do more for the board.  So how can a Chair delegate with confidence?
8 Top tips for Delegation
1.    The Chair should get to know every trustee by name
2.    The Chair should be clear about what is expected of each board member
3.    She  or he should be fair, objective, respectful and listen to their views
4.    She or he should help the group stay focused on their task – this sometimes calls for fairness
5.    The Chair should be tactful and diplomatic.  If one trustee has held the floor for too long, the Chair could intervene to let others have a chance to speak.
6.    The Chair should remind board members of their higher purpose and work towards balancing their passion for board service with compliance obligations and focusing on strategy.
7.    Board members can be motivated if they know their contributions are valued.  The Chair  enhance the confidence of  the Chief Executive, the board and committee members by  acknowledging their efforts and relating these back to the organisational goals.
8.    An effective Chair can work with fellow board members to establish good practices for recruiting, training and supporting Chairs in years to come.  By putting these provisions in place the Chair will leave a lasting legacy that will benefit the organisation long after he or she has stepped down.