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Board diversity: Let’s make it personal

A Boston Business Journal series

​Chemistry among your board members will determine the board's success and effectiveness.

Board diversity: Let’s make it personal

An employer’s perspective, as shared by William K. Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte LLP

It likely comes as no surprise that boards seeking diversity will typically consider gender, ethnicity, and professional background. However, a focus on those factors alone may not necessarily result in a board that is truly diverse in terms of diversity of thought. When board members share similar experiences, backgrounds, and personalities, it is likely that the decisions they make and ideas they generate are equally similar. This week’s blog focuses on the impact personality-linked behavior can have on board dynamics.

In this instance, personality means the ways in which a person processes information, interacts with others, and reaches decisions. Defined this way, personality may affect board dynamics just as much as other, more visible, composition factors (such as gender and ethnicity). Thus, when considering current board effectiveness or future needs of the board, members might look at the personalities of existing and prospective directors.

One of the tools board members might use when searching for diverse personalities to serve on their boards is the Business Chemistry assessment. This tool uses a data-driven approach to measure traits and behaviors relevant to business, and can provide insights about individuals based on observable traits and preferences. The model has been used with boards and executives (including Deloitte professionals) who are interested in bringing personality and diversity into the discussion.

There is no best personality or mix of personalities. Instead, Business Chemistry allows users to understand both their own working style, as well as that of their colleagues.

The model is comprised of four broad personalities:

  • Pioneers value variety, possibilities, and generating new ideas. They spark energy and imagination.
  • Drivers value logic, systems, and a challenge. They generate momentum.
  • Guardians value stability and details. They bring order and rigor.
  • Integrators value connection and relationships. They draw teams together.

Do these descriptions remind you of anyone you know? Although some people are generally geared towards one dominant personality, most exhibit traits that overlap. I, for example, am an Integrator/Pioneer.

Knowing these personality styles can be a great first step when thinking about improving communication and decision making within your board.

Ideally, a board includes a blend of personalities. However, it is important for boards to consider the impact of personality on board’s communication, management, and overall effectiveness, and which personalities may best support specific areas of business.

To learn more about the Business Chemistry and how it can positively impact your organization, read more on the Business Chemistry blog.

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