Episode 23: Understanding the key elements of an effective Board with “the Board Architect”, Mark A. Pfister

Understanding how your Board can be effective begins with an assessment of your Board’s architecture. Author, consultant, and non-Executive Director Mark A. Pfister joins us to talk about what he means by the architecture of a Board and how individual Board members need to meet the demands of their roles in order to serve the organization well. This conversation touches on a number of key governance principles and best practices and we hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Mark A. Pfister is CEO & Chief Board Consultant of M. A. Pfister Strategy Group, an executive advisory firm that serves as a strategic advisory council for executives and Boards in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. He is also Chairman & CEO of Integral Board Group, a specialized Board services and consulting company. Mr. Pfister is a ‘Board Macro-Influencer’ and his success has been repeated across a wide range of business situations and environments. He prides himself on being a coach and mentor to senior executives and directors. In Board Director circles, Mr. Pfister has earned the nickname ‘The Board Architect.’ His book is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Across-Board-Architecture-Effective-Directors/dp/0692064265

Episode 22: Dealing with Dilemmas that Directors face with Julie Garland McLellan

When you sit on a Board, part of your role is to deal with difficult situations. When inevitable challenges and dilemmas arise, the organization will benefit from Directors who show courage, wisdom, humility, and a strong commitment to the Board. Join us as consultant, author, experienced Director, and frequent media commentator Julie Garland McLellan guides us through how to deal with difficult situations that can arise in the world of governance.

Julie Garland McLellan is the creator and author of the very popular and internationally circulated Director’s Dilemma newsletter, available at: https://www.directorsdilemma.com/. Ms. Garland McLellan is an experienced board director with current directorships, an international expert on corporate governance, and a corporate governance advisor to mid and small-cap boards, Julie champions the cause of directors required to shoulder enormous responsibility on a shoestring budget.

Episode 21: The role of Boards in building Trust, with Rahul Bhardwaj, CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors

How can a Board build trust in its organization and broader community? Can a Board really monitor and even measure trust? How? Rahul Bhardwaj, CEO of the Institute of Corporate Directors, sits down to discuss with us the critical role that all Boards play in rebuilding trust in their organizations. The ICD’s recently published Trust Toolkit explains that companies that are industry leaders “regularly outperform the overall trust level for their sector.” Join us to find out why trust is so important today and how having your Board pay close attention to it can help your organization and your community to thrive.

Rahul Bhardwaj is the CEO & President of the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD), the Chair of the Global Network of Director Institutes (GNDI), and is a member of the Leadershpi Council at the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey Business School. He is a frequent speaker and commentator on issues of governance and leadership and his thought-provoking insights are challenging Boards and organizations to more broadly consider the impact of their work and seek to build strong, vibrant, thriving communities.

Episode 20: How to PREP for a Board meeting: a conversation with Scott Baldwin, Co-Founder of DirectorPrep.com

Preparing for a Board meeting is a critical part of your work as a Director. When done well it can ensure that the Board fulfills its responsibility to provide oversight, insight, and foresight for the organization. Join us as we sit down with Scott Baldwin, Co-Founder of DirectorPrep.com, to hear from him about how to follow the PREP framework in advance of a Board meeting so that you make sure your contribution is meaningful.

Find more resources to prepare for your meeting at https://savvy.directorprep.com/

You can sign up for the DirectorPrep newsletter by clicking here.

Reflection on Episode 10: The importance of good questions

When I lead board orientations, I always try to take myself back to when I first joined a board. As a new Board member, I didn’t understand much about the role of the board, how the group functioned or much about how the organization worked. Sometimes my lack of experience and knowledge left me sitting there with little to say. Or if I did have something to say, sometimes I would worry that my comment or question would be off base and I might embarrass myself. Board members I serve with now sometimes look at me skeptically when I tell them of my first year of near total silence. Although these feelings are natural, if you’re going to serve as a board director, you need to contribute something, you need so say something, you can’t just sit there in silence. You would just be taking up valuable space from someone else who could contribute something. A great starting point for any Board member to contribute to the work of the Board is to always be prepared to ask good questions.

I developed a list of ten questions I believe its always okay for board members to ask. I give this list to board members and ask them to put it on the outside cover of their governance binder so that they always have it handy to refer to during meetings if they feel they have nothing to say. On the board I chair, I encourage board members to “get their stick on the ice” by making sure they speak at least once each meeting.

When Andrew and I discussed doing an episode on my ten questions, we came up with a better idea. Why don’t we take advantage of the expertise of our guests and ask them what questions they think are always okay for board members to ask? I’m glad we took this approach because our experts suggested some questions I hadn’t thought of. I won’t spoil the episode by reflecting on their questions now, but we encourage you to check out this, our tenth episode, for a revisit with some of our guests for their insights on questions.

We have a lot more to say about the value of questions in board meetings, but too much for this short blog. If we hear you liked this episode, we’ll do another one in the future and will include more discussion on the value of questions in this space.

About Paul and Andrew

Who are Paul Wilton and Andrew Jardine?

Paul is an experienced not-for-profit Board member who has served on Boards at the local, provincial, and national level. He has been the Chair of the Ontario Hemophilia Society and currently is the Chair of the Canadian Hemophilia Society. Paul was born and raised in London, Ontario and attended King’s University College at Western University where he earned a BA in Honors Political Science. After that, he went on to complete a Bachelors of Education at Western, a Masters in Public Administration, and is currently enrolled in a PhD in Higher Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto. He has been an active member of his community and in 2012 he was recognized by his alma mater as the Young Alumni of the Year. At his high school Paul won “Student of the year” although there are claims that he stuffed the ballots. He currently is the Senior Liaison Officer for King’s University College and is responsible for recruitment strategies for enrolling students both domestic and international. Paul lives with his partner and three dogs near London, Ontario.

Andrew is the Secretary to the Board of Directors and Executive Assistant to the Principal at King’s University College. As Board Secretary, he advises management and the Board about policy, process, and governance principles. Andrew is a member of the Leads Employment Services Board of Directors and works with Capacity Canada to present to governance professionals who support Boards about how to succeed in their role. He serves his local parish as the Chair of the Pastoral Council and was appointed to a Diocesan Commission to implement a new organizational structure by the Bishop of London in 2018. He was born and raised in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and immigrated to London, Ontario in 1999. Andrew attended King’s University College where he completed a BA in Honors Philosophy. He later went on to Wilfrid Laurier University and finished an MBA in 2011. He is currently enrolled in the Chartered Director Program at the Director’s College, a program offered through McMaster University and the Conference Board of Canada. In 1997 Andrew was the skip of the curling team that won the Mary Bruce Memorial Bonspiel at Bally Haly Country Club in St. John’s. He even got a plaque with his name on it. Andrew currently lives in London with his wife, a puppy named Penny, and six children.

Why Governance Guys

Paul and Andrew have a mutual love of/obsession with governance. Yes, it’s a bit odd. But it’s also given them lots to talk about and ponder over. They are both experienced on Boards and have even gone on for advanced education in governance. They are truly governance geeks.

After many, many conversations over a coffee or tea about hot topics for Boards and conundrums they were facing in their work, back in February 2020 (what feels like about a thousand years before the Covid19 pandemic) Paul and Andrew sat down and quantified how much more they needed to learn about governance. It turned out to be a huge amount. Not only that but they also discovered that other people who were either on Boards or who were interested in joining a Board also had a long list of questions about governance. As a result, Paul and Andrew set out to find a proper medium through which they could investigate the art and science of governance and unveil its glorious mysteries to anyone looking to serve an organization or a community. The result, for better or for worse, is The Governance Guys.

The Governance Guys seeks to explore the art and science of governance. Good governance relies on the combination of technical knowledge with soft skills.  The meaning and purpose of governance principles and practices come alive when applied expertise meets the delicate and exciting dance of human interactions.

Our goal is to bring to you the voices of experts in the field to discuss all aspects of governance so that you can perform your role at a high level the next time you take your seat at the boardroom table. To further advance this goal, we will rely on you to offer your feedback, your questions, your criticisms, and your experience so that together we can positively impact our organizations and our communities. Thank you for joining us.