Home   Blogs  Boardroom Dynamics: What I’ve seen to work well in the boardroom

Boardroom Dynamics: What I’ve seen to work well in the boardroom

During my 20+ years as a Chair and Non-Executive Director on boards, I have observed a wide range of effective and dysfunctional behaviours in the boardroom. 

So… what are boardroom dynamics?

In simple terms, boardroom dynamics are the social patterns that operate within the boardroom that shape communication processes, which ultimately affect the decision-making capability of the board. Over time, repeated patterns of behaviour within the boardroom become a group habit or a board dynamic.

…and why are they important?

‘What brings boards and companies down is dysfunction in their social system’

– Cairns, 2003, ‘Boardrooms that work’.

A board that is founded on effective boardroom dynamics makes good decisions. Some of the effective behaviours that I have observed in the boardroom include the following:

  • collaboration and co-operation;
  • open sharing of information; 
  • willing participation in discussions;
  • fairness and respect;
  • independent thinking;
  • openness to explore different perspectives; and
  • ability to find common ground

All directors within the boardroom are responsible for board dynamics. However, it is the Chair’s style and leadership that plays a significant role in influencing how board dynamics ultimately play out in the boardroom.

Something that works well for me when things are not going well in the boardroom, is to have a clear set of ground rules or rules of engagement in place that have been jointly developed by directors and executive. I’ve used these as the basis for discussion to draw attention to problematic behaviour/s in the boardroom. Depending on the behaviour/s this may have to be on a one-on-one basis, rather than with the whole board.

Next post I will talk about some of the dysfunctional boardroom behaviours that I’ve observed over the years!