Reviewing financial statements, audit activities, and compliance activities are all part of the work required of board members to keep the company running on the right path. But the most successful boards do far more than this, focusing on more forward-looking, value-creating, strategic issues.
Earlier this year, Russell Reynolds Associates surveyed 750 board directors about where their board prioritized its time and energy in the preceding 12 months. When we combined that data with insights from our work, and discussions with other directors and outside experts, what stood out was a group we call “Gold Medal Boards,” those that rate themselves as operating in a highly effective manner and that oversee a high-performing company (one that has outperformed relevant total shareholder return benchmarks for two or more years consecutively). The data around this group is clear: Gold Medal Boards don’t spend any more time on their work than other boards, but they spend their time in vastly different ways.