Getting the board onboard and aligned

IN a recent webinar organized by BoardPro entitled “How to Get your Board On-board and Aligned,” I gained insights on building an effective working board from Lisa Cook, founder and managing director of Get on Board Australia, an Australian board management software provider and board portal.

Liza presented a three-step framework, “I AM” which stands for “Integrate, Activate and Motivate.” To remember this framework easily, Liza suggests to have in mind statements like: “I am ready to serve the board”; “I am ready to be part of a high-performing board”; and, “I am ready to be successful.”

The three-step framework calls for the following:

1. Integrate. This ensures that the board member develops a broad understanding of the board and the organization, is clear on how the board does its work, its norms and culture, and what the board member is there for. This may include:

(a) conducting a rigorous onboarding/induction program that introduces the new board member to the board and to the organization by providing access to past board meeting documents; board charter and suite of policies and procedures; conversations with other board members; strategy documentation, reports, etc.;

(b) assigning a board buddy for them to have someone to go to, for example, for an explanation of the various acronyms throughout the board papers and for a quick low-down on the context of a topic or issue being discussed;

(c) creating connection with the chair to have an opportunity to bond together and to get to know and understand them and their broader existence such as other commitments, health, family challenges, and career satisfaction; and

(d) setting clear expectations to avoid many issues that plague boards and to positively work towards engaging and activating board members so that they will know what to do and when to do it, and have the tools for the job.

2. Activate. This refers to increasing participation and engagement of the board members by:

(a) leveraging on each of the board member’s expertise and diversity by positioning the expertise where it’s logically needed and valued, or by inviting the board member to provide in-depth information or recommendations to the board;

(b) engaging the board member in setting how the board does its work, with the aim of being an efficient and effective board. In addition, asking the board member to share how they do their best work and what tools they might need; and

(c) providing invitations to attend events as a board representative or sharing the load across all board members to ensure everyone feels involved and recognized.

3. Motivate. This consists of giving a chance for the board to know and to bond with one another. Initiating board engagement away from meetings can be extremely valuable to a collaborative board. Simple ways to do this are having board lunches/dinners before or after board meetings, and/or engaging with a board buddy and/or the chair between meetings. Making a point of celebrating successes will also make all the hard work and difficult decisions feel worth it.

Octavio Peralta is currently the executive director of the UN Global Compact Network Philippines and founder and volunteer CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives, the “association of associations.” E-mail:


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