These 7 critical factors either make or break the success of every board of directors or top team:

  1. board leadership;
  2. how the board considers and takes decisions;
  3. how these decisions are communicated, disseminated, actioned, and monitored (often scooped up in the term ‘assurance’);
  4. robust and appropriate (suitable) systems of internal control and risk management (often referred to as ‘governance’);
  5. continuous, inclusive, and diverse stakeholder engagement and consultation;
  6. ubiquitous internal and external communication and clear messaging on vision, values, and direction; and,
  7. the engagement of your people (often referred to as staff engagement’).

These seven criteria are pivotal to the success of a board, and of the management teams which it deploys and oversees. We also know that the board is often constrained in its resources, and that some of these elements are either not ‘front of mind’ or can even become distractions from the business of the day.

Directors have large and challenging portfolios, particularly in complex environments like the NHS. Having additional compliance and procedural burdens can detract from the key functions of a board, to set strategic direction, delegate responsibility, monitor delivery, and correct course where necessary.

In many cases, this means the company secretary is relied upon to ensure some of these criteria are maintained and operated effectively. This may work, partially, and for a time, but the board cannot delegate accountability, and must make workable arrangements to establish and maintain its own standards for each of these elements. And, as for all ‘assurance’, these arrangements must be measured and monitored.