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Expansion on Strategy 3: Fostering Relationships with Individual Board Members

An IT Manager and a board member meet casually to discuss how their views on Information Technology align

To secure funding for their initiatives, Technology Leaders with board reporting responsibilities should consider building relationships with individual board members, providing that the CEO is on board with the idea. This strategy involves understanding board members’ priorities, addressing their concerns, and creating advocates for the proposed initiatives.

Here are some tips for Tech Leaders to effectively engage with board members:

Conduct Research and Preparation:

Before engaging with board members, a Technology Leader should conduct thorough research to understand their backgrounds, areas of expertise, and professional interests. This information can help the leader tailor their conversations and presentations to resonate with the specific interests and concerns of each board member. Additionally, it is essential to familiarise oneself with the organisation’s power dynamics to navigate interactions appropriately.

Takeaways: Know your market. Not every board member has the same opinions and position on issues like risk, reward and strategy.  You are seeking to make and enhance a personal relationship with each board member that has a decision-making role on your proposal, whether that’s at the committee level or full board.

Seek One-on-One Meetings:

Requesting one-on-one meetings with board members allows Technology Leaders to establish personal connections and discuss their initiatives in a focused and private setting. These meetings provide an opportunity to delve deeper into the specific concerns or questions the board members may have, as well as address any potential reservations they may hold in relation to your proposed initiatives. By giving individual attention to board members, a leader can build rapport and foster a more personal relationship.

Takeaways: Not every board member has the same opinions or reasons for supporting or denying your plans. One-on-one meetings will generally be respected and appreciated by the board members as it will demonstrate you are thinking like them.

Understand Their Perspectives and Connect with Shared Goals:

When engaging with board members, Technology Leaders should actively listen and seek to understand their perspectives and priorities. Board members often have extensive experience and a unique vantage point on the organisation’s strategy and challenges. By acknowledging and incorporating their viewpoints, leaders can demonstrate respect for their expertise and align their proposals accordingly.

Takeaways: Active Listening is a technique for communication that you should implement in the one-on-one meetings. Reflecting that you heard and understood each board member’s perspective allows you to match your argument to them and reduces barriers to the approval of your plans.

Communicate in Their Language:

When engaging with board members, Technology Leaders should frame their messages in business terms and avoid excessive technical jargon. Senior executives often have a broader understanding of the organisation’s operations and financial aspects but may have limited technical knowledge. By communicating the value and benefits of the initiatives in a language that resonates with their expertise, Technology Leaders can ensure clear comprehension and engagement.

Takeaways: Presenting with overly technical language creates a natural barrier to funding approval.  To lower those barriers, think, write and speak like a CEO and use non-technical language to explain concepts that are probably foreign to most of your board members.

Provide Regular Updates and Progress Reports:

Board members appreciate being kept informed about the progress and outcomes of the initiatives. Technology Leaders should provide regular updates and progress reports, focusing on key milestones achieved, metrics that demonstrate success, and any challenges or adjustments made along the way. Timely and transparent communication helps build trust and confidence among board members.

Takeaways: Directors have a right to information to help them do their job in setting strategic direction.  They’ll appreciate being proactively informed about progress.

Leverage Support from Other Board Members:

Developing relationships with influential board members who support the Technology Leader’s initiatives can be advantageous when engaging with board members. These advocates can help champion the proposals and provide additional credibility and support during board discussions. Leaders should strategically cultivate relationships with these influential board members and seek their guidance on how to navigate interactions with senior executives.

Takeaways: If you invest the time, you will find allies on the board whose appetite for the reduction or exploitation of risk is aligned with your point of view. Leveraging those relationships can mean the difference between a successful proposal and one that almost got over the line.

Remember, building relationships with board members takes time and persistence. You should invest in continuous relationship-building efforts, demonstrating your expertise, professionalism, and commitment to the organisation’s success. By understanding board members’ perspectives, connecting with shared goals, communicating effectively, and leveraging support from other board members, you can effectively engage with senior executives and gain their support for funding your initiatives.


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