What are the Key Attributes of a High Performance Board?

Mark Bridges
5 min readDec 21, 2018

Financial downturns and intense competition has put a lot of strain over boards and directors to perform better. The effectiveness of the board of directors varies from organization to organization.

An accomplished chairman can make the board more constructive and practical by establishing high standards and helping members improve their participation.

In 2013, McKinsey & Company carried out empirical research to uncover effective board practices. The study analyzed 772 corporate directors, representing both public and private owned businesses globally, from a broad range of industries. The objective was to unearth the practices, traits, time allocation, devotion, and strategic priorities that differentiate between an effective versus unproductive board of directors.

The research revealed stark differences in the way directors distributed their time in boardroom activities and towards the efficacy of their boards. Differentiated based on the range of issues directors handled and the time they dedicated, the directors assessed the impact of their work and their board’s competitiveness as:

  1. Low Impact Board
  2. Moderate Impact Board
  3. High Performance Board

Let’s take a deeper dive into the 3 types of boards:

Low Impact Boards

The directors in the low impact boards are observed to execute — at the basic level — functions, such as assuring compliance, evaluating financial reports, and analyzing portfolio expansion options. The low impact boards focus on eliminating biasness from their decisions. Only a minority of directors in this group practice human resource rationalization, deliberation on strategic alternatives, portfolio synergies creation, and strategic alignment.

Moderate Impact Boards

Boards with a moderate impact are observed incorporating trends and adapting to changing environmental conditions. The focus of moderate impact boards is on analyzing strategic alternatives. Majority of directors in these boards practice adjusting strategy based on environment, staying ahead of trends, engaging in innovation, and analyzing portfolio diversification options.

High Performance Boards

A large majority of directors in this group are seen actively taking part in performing all the key functions in their board practice. High impact boards have an even richer set of strategic priorities than the low or moderate impact boards. In performance management, for example, more involved boards conduct regular performance discussions with the CEO, examine leading indicators, and aspire to review robust nonfinancial metrics.

High performing boards look inward, analyze value drivers, discuss alternative strategies, and evaluate the distribution of resources. More engaged boards do not limit a CEOs’ right to set a company’s direction, in fact, they are supportive of management.

High Performance Boards — Key Traits and Commitment Requirements

  • High performance board necessitates dedicated and committed directors who can allocate sufficient time to their job. McKinsey survey revealed that directors on high performance boards spend about 40 days a year on their boards, whereas individuals from the low or moderate impact boards work only 19 days a year, on average.
  • Higher-impact board members devote around 8 extra workdays a year on strategy related tasks.
  • They build a better perception of their companies and help senior management test their strategies.
  • The directors serving high performance boards are more effective and more satisfied with their work.
  • High performance boards spend more time on Enterprise Performance Management, M&A, Organizational Health, and Risk Management activities.

Interested in learning more about how to improve the effectiveness of your board? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about the High Performance Boards here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

Do You Find Value in This Framework?

You can download in-depth presentations on this and hundreds of similar business frameworks from the FlevyPro Library. FlevyPro is trusted and utilized by 1000s of management consultants and corporate executives. Here’s what some have to say:

“My FlevyPro subscription provides me with the most popular frameworks and decks in demand in today’s market. They not only augment my existing consulting and coaching offerings and delivery, but also keep me abreast of the latest trends, inspire new products and service offerings for my practice, and educate me in a fraction of the time and money of other solutions. I strongly recommend FlevyPro to any consultant serious about success.”

– Bill Branson, Founder at Strategic Business Architects

“As a niche strategic consulting firm, Flevy and FlevyPro frameworks and documents are an on-going reference to help us structure our findings and recommendations to our clients as well as improve their clarity, strength, and visual power. For us, it is an invaluable resource to increase our impact and value.”

– David Coloma, Consulting Area Manager at Cynertia Consulting

“As a small business owner, the resource material available from FlevyPro has proven to be invaluable. The ability to search for material on demand based our project events and client requirements was great for me and proved very beneficial to my clients. Importantly, being able to easily edit and tailor the material for specific purposes helped us to make presentations, knowledge sharing, and toolkit development, which formed part of the overall program collateral. While FlevyPro contains resource material that any consultancy, project or delivery firm must have, it is an essential part of a small firm or independent consultant’s toolbox.”

– Michael Duff, Managing Director at Change Strategy (UK)

“FlevyPro has been a brilliant resource for me, as an independent growth consultant, to access a vast knowledge bank of presentations to support my work with clients. In terms of RoI, the value I received from the very first presentation I downloaded paid for my subscription many times over! The quality of the decks available allows me to punch way above my weight — it’s like having the resources of a Big 4 consultancy at your fingertips at a microscopic fraction of the overhead.”

– Roderick Cameron, Founding Partner at SGFE Ltd

“Several times a month, I browse FlevyPro for presentations relevant to the job challenge I have (I am a consultant). When the subject requires it, I explore further and buy from the Flevy Marketplace. On all occasions, I read them, analyze them. I take the most relevant and applicable ideas for my work; and, of course, all this translates to my and my clients’ benefits.”

– Omar Hernán Montes Parra, CEO at Quantum SFE



Mark Bridges

I blog about various management frameworks, from Strategic Planning to Digital Transformation to Change Management. https://flevy.com