The four levels of maturity in a board: A map for board development

  • There is increasing scrutiny on board competence, yet paradoxically, there is reluctance to invest in board development.
  • There is a need to identify and codify the developmental maturity level of a board before deciding the appropriate processes for its review and development.
  • This article outlines the four levels of board maturity and the actions required to integrate the learning board with the learning organisation.

Illustration of man walking up stairs with briefcase

There are four levels of maturity through which all boards need to develop before they can prove their competence and professionalism. Given an increasingly sceptical public view of board competence, a conscious development process is no longer a choice but a necessity.

Context

Chairs, boards and directors are in a paradoxical position. On the one hand, the public, politicians and stakeholders are angered deeply by boards’ perceived lack of competence especially since the financial crisis of 2008. The public now demands higher standards of accountability and professionalism from boards across the listed, private, public and not-for-profit sectors. On the other hand boards and directors often resent such charges because they feel that they are rarely properly resourced or trained to accept the increasing responsibilities and liabilities demanded of them. This is understandable. It is an open international secret that boards are rarely fully competent because so little time and money are invested in developing them. Their role is not understood nor appreciated by the public. Yet boards feel that they cannot admit this open secret because of the public’s underlying assumption that directors must know what they are doing — or why were they made directors in the first place?

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