Monday, February 25, 2013

Young Leaders on Boards…Good for Business

I recently meet with the Chairman of an Aged Care board who had come to talk about the ‘Engaging Young Leaders on Aged Care Boards Social Innovation Grant Project we are running.

It was really good to talk to a person who offered us his insights into how he had first gone on a board when he was 24 years old. He said that it had given him a very good insight into the sector the organisation was in and the experience and exposure had helped him to develop his leadership skills. He was keen to offer an opportunity for a young professional to sit on a board sub-committee and he understood he was taking a leadership role in making this commitment. I say leadership role because what had emerged in our conversation was that not everyone thought that it made good business sense to have a young person on their Board. 

You may say ‘why of course it makes good business sense’ and that is because you know that to really achieve board effectiveness, Director Competencies are a combination of both technical competence and behavioral competence. In articulating the business case for why young leaders could be seen as a business asset, let me offer you some of my thoughts.Young leaders offer us the opportunity to develop:
  • Diversity of Board membership: age, gender, cultural background and sexual orientation. Diversity of membership can help reduce ‘groupthink’. One of the structural faults that can lead to ‘groupthink’ is homogeneity of member’s social background and ideology (Kiel).
  • Workforce Planning Strategies: young leaders can offer valuable insights into the development of strategies to attract and retain young talent in organisations.
  • Board Succession Plans: (with 29% of boards in Australia made up of people over the aged of 60 years) it is a business imperative that we recruit young leaders onto our boards.     
  • Service Delivery Models: the grandparent/grandchild relationship is special and through this relationship young leaders offer unique insights into what matters to seniors.
  • Board “Behaviour Effectiveness” Guide: Research into Board behavioural dynamics (social and psychological processes occurring between directors and between the board and management) highlights a number of cases, one ‘knowledge’ either the ignorant director or the know-it-all director can have negative consequences. Young leaders are presenting as learners and can help to develop a new type of culture required in modern governance – Nadler refers to this as the ‘engaged’ board.
  • Social Media Stakeholder Engagement Strategies: leverage the organisations business via a new medium 
  • Contribute to the development of a future leader in our society  
I invite you to brainstorm why else it make good business sense – and let me know so that we can add it to the growing list.   

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