Navigating rough waters: Top 5 challenges to board performance and how to overcome them
The writer

Navigating rough waters: Top 5 challenges to board performance and how to overcome them

In the high-stakes world of corporate governance, Boards of Directors face a myriad of challenges that can hinder their performance and, consequently, the success of their organisations.


Let’s dive into the top five challenges boards face today and explore practical strategies to overcome them.

1. Clarity in roles and responsibilities: Avoiding the confusion

Challenge: One of the biggest headaches for any board is not having clear-cut roles and responsibilities. This lack of clarity can lead to confusion, duplicated efforts and important tasks falling through the cracks.

Solution: The remedy is straightforward: define and document each member's role and responsibilities. Regular training and board evaluations can ensure everyone is on the same page. Think of it as giving each player on a team a specific position to play – it’s much easier to score goals that way.

2. The diversity dilemma: Broadening the boardroom

Challenge: Many boards suffer from a lack of diversity in terms of gender, ethnicity, age and professional background. This homogeneity can lead to a narrow perspective on issues, potentially missing out on innovative ideas and insights.

Solution: To tackle this, boards should actively seek diverse candidates who bring different viewpoints and experiences. This isn’t just about ticking boxes; it’s about enriching discussions and decision-making with a variety of perspectives. It’s like adding different spices to a dish – the result is a lot more flavourful.

3. Strategy vs. operations: Finding the balance

Challenge: Boards often get bogged down in the nitty-gritty of day-to-day operations at the expense of focusing on long-term strategic planning. It’s easy to get lost in the weeds and lose sight of the bigger picture.

Solution: Boards need to consciously refocus their efforts on strategic oversight. This might involve delegating more operational tasks to management or setting specific agenda items that focus on long-term goals and strategy. Think of it as climbing a tree to get a better view of the forest, rather than examining each leaf.

4. Communication and trust: Building bridges with management

Challenge: A strained relationship between the board and management can lead to mistrust, miscommunication and ultimately, poor decision-making. This tension is often rooted in a lack of clear communication channel and mutual understanding.

Solution: Regular, open communication and joint strategy sessions can bridge this gap. It’s important for boards to support and guide management while respecting their operational autonomy. It’s a bit like a dance – both parties need to move in sync and in tune with the music.

5. Keeping up with change: Staying ahead of the curve

Challenge: The business landscape is changing at breakneck speed, driven by technological advancements, regulatory shifts and evolving market dynamics. Boards that fail to keep up risk making decisions based on outdated information.

Solution: Boards should commit to ongoing education and stay abreast of industry trends and changes. Inviting external experts, attending conferences and encouraging board members to engage in continuous learning can keep the board informed and agile. It’s like updating the software on your phone – you need the latest version to get the best performance.


A Board of Directors is the brain of an organisation, steering it towards success and sustainability. By addressing these five key challenges – role clarity, diversity, strategic focus, communication with management, and adaptability to change – boards can enhance their effectiveness significantly. 

Implementing these solutions isn't just about overcoming hurdles; it's about seizing opportunities to drive the organisation forward. A well-functioning board, much like a well-oiled machine, can lead to better decision-making, more innovative strategies and ultimately, a more successful and resilient organisation. 

In essence, the journey to exceptional board performance is continuous and requires a proactive, committed approach. By embracing these strategies, boards cannot only navigate the choppy waters of corporate governance but also chart a course towards a brighter, more prosperous future for their organisations.

The writer is a member of the Institute of Directors, Ghana and serves on a number of boards. He is an independent Internal Audit Advisor, Enterprise Risk Management Consultant, Board Consultant, and professional trainer.

He is the founder and Chief Operating Officer of Redric Consulting, your trusted partner for comprehensive training and consulting services in the fields of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC).

With a proven track record in Board Consulting, Internal Audit, Internal Control, Compliance, Fraud Risk Management, and Cybersecurity, Redric Consulting empowers your organization and ensures its success.
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