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Board Management Tips to Help Your Team Win w/Lauren Harrell Ep#99

By Anthony Taylor - April 28, 2021

Lauren is the Director & Head of Commodities for the Financial Institutions Group at Chatham Financial, the largest independent financial risk management advisory and technology firm. Having worked internally at finance and audit organizations and externally as an advisor across the finance enterprise, she approaches leadership and the boardroom with a multiple-stakeholder focus.

On this episode of the Strategy & Leadership Podcast, Lauren joins us to talk about returning to in-person work, what she's learned from 10 years of board experience, working with hostile board members, board bylaws, and much more.

 

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Here's a breakdown of our conversation:

  • Remote work & returning to in-person (from a boardroom perspective)

Lauren shares her companies experience working remotely, how they're managing being fully remote, and their plans for returning to in-person work. She mentions that the industry is heavily regulated, so there's a lot that can't happen in a fully remote setting (traders can't trade from home, etc.). From a boardroom perspective, she breaks down some of the key conversations that will need to happen as people return to in-person work, particularly the dynamic of people who've been vaccinated vs. people who haven't.

  • What she's learned from her own board experience

Lauren has 10 year of board work experience, which started in her twenties. She learned early on that the main role of the board member is oversight, not operator, which means being curious and thinking long-term. She's worked with both large organizations with plenty of support infrastructure and people, and smaller, community based organizations with limited staff. When working with the smaller organizations, there's one challenge that frequently comes up - everyone has great intentions and wants to help, but the line between operators and board members is often blurred. In this case, her tip would be to make sure communication is streamlined - so the Executive Director is fed info from just one person.

  • On hostile board members & the decision making process

When asked about hostile members, Lauren said she isn't personally threatened by that. Instead she recognizes that the purpose of the board is to hear different perspectives, so she welcomes them. She will even seek people out that she know will have objections, just so she can think through the objections herself. One big takeaway is that not every decision needs to be unanimous - sometimes a certain amount of friction in conversation leads to better decision making.

  • Approach to managing board bylaws

Lauren mentions that a lot of orgs don't look at their bylaws. When she's working with new organizations, she starts by digging into their bylaws and asking "Is this what you actually practice, or is this just on paper?". She looks at the bylaws related to recruitment and elections, and tries to determine if they're following the bylaws or not. She also looks at the charters for committees, including their roles and responsibilities. Ultimately, she prefers more general bylaws, because there's more leeway and less chance of a violation.

 

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To get ahold of Lauren, connect with her on LinkedIn.

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