Cultivating Leadership on the Boards of Tomorrow

Written by Veronica Meadows on October 9, 2018

To open this article, I want to share with you my board of directors’ governing intent and the lens through which it works:

“As the organization’s primary stewards the CLARB board of directors exercises its duty of foresight and learns with the future about the powerful forces reshaping the regulatory environment for landscape architecture.”

Governing intent is so valuable because it is formally codified. Over the last 18 months we have completely evolved our governance structure, including leadership identification and cultivation.

This starts with transforming the way our existing board functions. We’ve created space on the agenda for the board to focus specifically on foresight at every meeting. What’s coming next for the association, and how can we anticipate and prepare for it to turn disruptions into opportunities? Our board considers the duty of foresight part of their fiduciary responsibilities, and key to their mission of stewarding the organization. Building this capacity within our organization means omitting certain other tasks to free up the time, energy and dedication that it requires.

A smart person once said in one of our board meetings that the most powerful question is:

“What if we..?”

It prompts further questions about the way things have always been done and the way processes can be changed. Integrating practices like exercising the duty of foresight creates even more space to question orthodoxy.

Proposing structural changes to our board enables us to go out and seek new leaders, ensuring that we have a good representation of different experiences, cultures, and backgrounds on our board. We’re looking differently at how we recruit and the types of people we’re recruiting.

Part of the competency skill set that is being sought is the capacity for curiosity and commitment to learning, as well as a collective diversity of perspectives. Healthy dissent uncovers areas of needed learning.

For example, we’re a regulatory association. Technology is going to impact us because professional practice is changing, and so is how that professional practice is regulated. When you’ve got a board made up of folks that don’t have much understanding of technological advancements like blockchain, a dissenting position on such a topic might uncover areas of additional learning that the board can focus on together to gain a more robust understanding of its impacts.

We’re creating greater opportunity for accountability in our board members. They’re coming into these roles as jobs. Even if it is voluntary, they turn up with skill and excitement. In the long run, this provides a better experience for them as individuals. They walk away from their governing experience better leaders than when they came in, and they take those competencies into their professional and personal lives.

Veronica will be speaking in the “Foresight Is the Future of Governing” session during SURGE Optimism 2018, an interactive virtual conference hosted by on November 7th-9th. Click here to learn more and register.