( 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things , 2012) argues that you don’t have to like business associates, “you just have to work with them.” What this means is you must at least respect them, or said another way, you have to like aspects of them. You have to respect and appreciate what they bring to the table. Listening generously is difficult because we come to the table with not only our own occupational biases about the right courses of action, but with biases against and/or about those other disciplines: “those sentimental human resources people… those bean- counting CFOs... those diplomatic-to-a fault civic leaders…” Biases get in the way of listening generously because, before they even speak, we think we know what they are going to say, and we already think they over-think about certain things. But if board members work really hard at generous listening, it can make an extraordinary difference in how they work together. It is crucial to be deliberate about cultivating a board that listens generously to one another. I have worked with and on lots of boards where people didn’t necessarily like one
even, or especially, when they think they are right.This is true generous listening. Good organizational governance involves the harmonious arrangement of people,processes, and systems to balance the diverse goals of stakeholders as organizations go about the work of achieving their goals.That work starts with good teaming of the diverse players in the boardroom. It requires commitment to honest, respectful dialogue and generous listening. It is not easy.The good news is that it can be taught and cultivated.The great news is that it powers organizational performance and player satisfaction – the stuff of personal and organizational legacies of significant contribution. Nancy Falls is CEO of The Concinnity Company, a firm that helps companies transform the way their boards and leadership teams work together, and author of Corporate Concinnity in the Boardroom: 10 Imperatives to Drive High Performing Companies (2015, Greenleaf). With more than thirty years of experience in and around the C-suite and the boardroom, Falls is a leadership and governance expert who understands what it takes to drive authentic success. For more information, visit www.TheConcinnityCompany.com.
another, but they did trust and respect each other. The ability for board members to trust and respect one another when they come to the table with increasingly different skill sets, backgrounds, areas of expertise, biases and, yes, prejudices is not necessarily easy or automatic. At The Concinnity Company we utilize a methodology for leadership and governance advising that takes the would- be power struggles of ideology, strategy and process and turns them into reasons to come together through strategic alignment of the dynamic personalities and diverse skill sets within boards of directors and C-suites.With intention and help, board directors can learn to seek voices that challenge their own ideas
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