Great Boards Are Boring

We have long thought that the best boards are invisible. Not absent, really, but certainly not in the public eye clamoring for attention. They do their work quietly and competently, eschewing a prominent public profile. Management does the up-in-front-of-the-room stuff.

Some boards seem purpose-built to be in the spotlight. The Theranos case, as recent books, documentaries and podcasts have made clear, is a good case in point. Elizabeth Holmes, the now-notorious Theranos founder, was fond of pointing out the star chamber of characters that populated her boardroom, but apparently curiosity, critical thinking and competence at oversight were not among their collective virtues. By contrast, the best-run and most enduring companies have the least prominent and visible boards. Everyone knows who Tim Cook is; almost no one knows who sits on the Apple board. We find the same to be true of schools.

Smart boards get the job done with minimal fanfare, no drama and little in the way of public presence. It is never a good day for a school when the board is in the spotlight no matter the reason.

Business and leadership, Governance, Headship, Strategy  |  permalink

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