Board Training is to boards what warm-up is to sports

If you watched the recently concluded CAF Africa Cup of Nations, you must have noticed that before any game, the players would engage in a pre-match warm-up regardless of their pro-athlete status. A good warm-up routine offers players the greatest physical and mental preparation for the upcoming game.

Board of directors like players are drawn from diverse backgrounds, education and experience and possess varied skills to add value to an organization. Regardless of how seasoned a director is, there are always new concepts to understand, new challenges to address, hence new things to learn. Despite the rich diversity found on majority of boards, there often exists some degree of governance gaps due to the dynamic nature of corporate governance. 

Just as an impactful warm-up includes different activities like mobility, active stretching, passing awareness practice, a possession game, patterns of play and sprints, a good board training regime should encompass an all rounded approach including bespoke group training, individual in-person/virtual training, self-paced online training, masterclasses, corporate governance conferences and peer group discussions.

The Codes of Corporate Governance have been pro-active in recommending that directors secure at least twelve hours of Board development per year on areas of governance however the same is not being implemented by a large number of companies. There are however a handful of companies that regularly review and agree with individual Board members on their development needs. Thereafter, either the Chairperson, in liaison with the Company Secretary or a Committee of the Board makes arrangements to ensure Board members go through the necessary training.

It is important to develop a continuous development culture geared towards the company’s mission and goals to ensure: –

  1. Up-skilling of directors which then helps to prevent knowledge and skills gaps in the boardroom. 
  2. That the Directors better understand the challenges that their organization is facing and hence are enable to design and deliver more targeted and impactful interventions.
  3. That the directors are empowered to become more proficient in their role and their confidence boosted.
  4. The Board stays up to date with changing trends in corporate governance space and regulatory and legal changes relevant to the Company.
  5. The directors increase their knowledge of the benefits or implications of their role, which can lead to increased engagement in their work.
  6. The Board has access to experts in a given field, thus directors can build knowledge through opportunities to learn from the experts.

The benefits of training of Directors is endless however many organizations see continuous development as compliance activity that should simply be checked off their to-do list. A good majority also see it as a cost that should be avoided. The secret is in starting small, having a budget and being consistent.

Individual directors also need to be proactive and not wait on the Company to plan the training sessions. The onus squarely lies on the director’s shoulder to continually seek improvement. Let’s cultivate a culture of learning. Shall we?