I often compare the dynamic of boards to family gatherings. We anticipate certain rituals and predictable behavior from our relatives, good and bad, and we return year after year out of duty, love, or both. A board of directors is similar; it can also fall into predictable behavior, just like your family, but with consequences for the organizations the board members seek to serve.
In her recent Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Decolonize Your Board,” Natalie A. Walrond argues that a healthy board culture is critical to maximizing a board’s effectiveness and ability to deliver on an organization’s mission. She describes two types of board behavior, “colonized,” manifested through dominance, based on hierarchical relationships and power, and the second, “decolonized,” is based on mutual respect between a board and an organization’s leadership. Walrond lays out nine strategies and specific tactics to help decolonize a board’s culture that is worth a read and discussion at your next board meeting.