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Boardroom Dynamics and Boardroom Chemistry: Why is it important?

According to research, board members are spending less time interacting with each other face-to-face. When board meetings only happen six to eight times a year with some directors dialing in via telephone or video conferencing, it’s not surprising that this can have a significant impact on boardroom dynamics and boardroom chemistry.

In her recent article, ‘Business Chemistry: A path to a more effective board composition’, Dannetta English Blane introduces Deloitte’s concept of different types of ‘business chemistry’ that can be applied to directors. Deloitte believes that ‘business chemistry’ may help us to understand the nature of boardroom dynamics and its impact on how well or not so well a board works.

According to research by Deloitte there are four types of ‘business chemistry’ that apply to directors:

  1. Pioneers – people who value possibilities and see the big picture. They are spontaneous and adaptable.
  2. Guardians – people who value stability and bring rigor and order. They are practical and detail oriented.
  3. Drivers – people who value challenges. They tend to be more technical, logical and ask the hard questions.
  4. Integrators – people who value connections. They are the ‘glue’ that holds the Boardroom together. They are diplomatic, empathetic and consensus-oriented.

Deloitte suggests that there are benefits in having a balance of all four ‘business chemistry’ types on a board to strengthen the culture in the boardroom and ultimately, boardroom dynamics.

It then becomes the role of the Chair to be the ‘chemistry conductor’ to work with the whole board and the individual board members, to ‘be greater than the sum of its parts’.

What I like about this framework is that I can easily see how it applies to the board that I chair and the mix of different ‘Business Chemistry’ types that make up the current composition of that board. It also helps to identify where any gaps in diversity might exist, aside from the more traditional diversity indicators.

What do you think?