The Imperative of Building Trust in the Boardroom

Sitting on the board, whether in a corporation, partnership, family business or charitable organization, often becomes a source of constant frustration. Board members will readily confide — off-the-record of course— that trust among board members is too tenuous for anyone to be able to raise the real issues in a productive manner and consequently little gets accomplished.  Board members also report they have given hope that things will ever change because no one seems to know how to change the culture of the board itself.

Behind the frustration and discouragement, exists a genuine concern that real dangers loom if critical business matters of strategy, governance, technology, among others, are not addressed. I would go so far as to suggest here that when organizations run into serious difficulties or fail to capitalize on opportunities, one can probably find that the seeds of trouble were sown 3 to 5 years prior in the mediocre functioning of the board.

Unfortunately the likelihood is high that a board without a culture of trust will become somewhat dysfunctional. Without trust, dysfunction is baked in the very nature of what a board is. Boards are different from other groups of people in several critical ways which become problematic when ignored.

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