We gather around the boardroom table - or the teleconference connection - on a regular basis to conduct business. We receive and discuss a common agenda and remain jointly accountable for the results. We go through the motions daily, but are we driven by an "effective group spirit?" What difference does it make in our governance if we do? What are we missing if the answer is no?
Revisiting Houle's marvelous book this week was a multi-layered treat. The one unrelated to this post: He's an adult education icon, writing about my other passionate topic, boards. (Discovering this book was both a shock and a delight years ago.) The related reason: It's filled with gems like this quote, and practical advice about building board capacity and supporting our governing bodies.
While I probably need to spend some time here sharing more wisdom from Houle's book, this particular quote begged for the spotlight today. It attends to the group dynamics issues that I've been writing about this year, and it reminds us that governance is more than the bottom-line tasks.
Houle describes the elements necessary to fostering this collegial environment:
"Such a spirit is a result of many causes, among which some of the most important are a strong belief in the mission and the program; a sense of progress in accomplishing goals; a conviction of the worth and importance of the board itself, particularly in the eyes of the community; and a good personal relationship and interaction among the members. Any board that has all four is fortunate; it also is rare." (p. 120)
How does your board stack up?