Studies show that companies with effective boards are significantly more successful. A recent HBR blog piece, The Key to a Better Board: Team Dynamics, really brought this home, stating that boards “that are able to function effectively as a team have an 800% greater impact on firm profitability than any one well-qualified board director.” The blog piece went on to point out that cultural and emotional intelligence are key aspects of great board members and that team coaching is a powerful intervention for driving positive team dynamics. Finally, the blog piece suggested some effective assessments to help select and coach board members.
This is great stuff, but there is one key additional point. Research shows that the effectiveness of any team, no matter how well coached, depends on the strength of the relationships between the respective team members. And, relationship strength, based on personality type, can be measured using the Four Groups 4G assessment. The assessment uses a color-coded reporting system to show relationship strength, ranking relationships from strongest green, to strong blue, to moderate yellow, to weak red. To give a sense of just how much this matters, two board members with a green relationship will work together easily, spending at most 15% of their time figuring out how best to communicate and work well together. In contrast, two board members with a red relationship will struggle to work together, spending as much as 50% of their time figuring out how to communicate and reluctantly work together.
While relationship strength is important for any team, it is particularly important for boards where meetings are spaced and productive work needs to occur quickly at each meeting. It represents the missing link between high board effectiveness and average board effectiveness once the other aspects of team dynamics are in place. Four Groups 4G is a great tool for screening potential new board members. It is also extremely useful for existing board members, helping them to understand their respective relationship strengths and how best to address weaknesses. Finally, it is a big help in assigning board members to committees, enabling committee members to have productive relationships with each other as well as with the committee chair. So, let’s add relationship strength and Four Groups 4G to the excellent list of advice and tools discussed in the HBR blog piece.