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New times with active and value creating board leadership

I have previously focused on the trend of board professionalization and competent teams. Recently, I read a really good book on the subject, which I would like to tip you about. Lars Bo Hansen and Steen Ernland have written "The Active Board", which focuses on how the board can develop the business and create competitiveness. 



The book’s 250 pages are easily read, but it does certainly not make it worse. It is at eye level and catches the reader with concrete punchlines - a book that you do not easily leave on the bookshelf.

No longer only about management - leadership will make the difference 

The book points out new guidelines for the modus operandi of the board. Without slackening control, more focus must not surprisingly be forward-looking, which puts greater demand on the board leadership itself. It is no longer only a question of management with focus on plans, control and doing the right things. Now leadership it is evenly important to ensure execution and that right things are done right. The book provides concrete input for the board composition based on both individual professional skills and collaborative skills relating to the team in question. A steady stream of real life examples are turned into checklists for the board’s own reflections, and not least its self-evaluation.

The boards must dare to substitue themselves 

Probably one of the most remarkable and value creating points is that the board must ensure to substitute themselves, so it can stand up to the company’s actual and future challenges. I have myself recently practiced a ”change of guard” after three years as chairman of the board at the family owned Kohberg Bakery Group.

The company has executed a fast and successful earnings turnaround from minus to plus since 2012. With significant investments in a new strategy, production equipment for fresh bread concepts, and a well-implemented CEO succession, the rails were laid out for the next long haul of the company’s development. Thus, it was a suitable time to pass the baton back to the family’s holding company KOFF, where a long-serving board member took over as Chairman of Kohberg. At the same time supply chain competencies on the board were superseded by baker competencies to support the increased strategic focus on fresh bread concepts. Being a professional board member is not about nursing your own board career, but nursing the company’s career.

Unpredictability calls for masters of contingencies

One of the big challenges, which I also know of from my own board work, is the trend of unpredictability. Time is over, where you on safe analytical ground could outline the perfect plan for the future, which even took care of competitor reactions. A combination of several macro trends like globalization, complexity, unpredictability and strategic dilemmas, puts pressure on the mutual change management power of the board and executive management. You need more than one plan B, and they shall be possible to execute as soon as the early warning lights start calling for corrective actions.

In other words, both work load and ability to envisage the unexpected and make the impossible possible increases. A task that puts high demands on the team – all the way from the board, the executives to the company’s total workforce.

In the light of this, I think the book, with its particular focus on management and leadership, is very inspiring. It provides concrete tools for the board to create value for better or for worse.

As much for excutives as for non-executives

”The Active Board” has its obvious audience among current or coming non-executive board members, but it is also clever reading for executives – it provides many interesting angles on how the boards of the future will think and collaborate with the executive management.


The book is only available in Danish. If you anyhow would like to read it, you can among others buy it here: www.gyldendalbusiness.dk


Good luck with your board work going forward. 


Mads Middelboe

Executive Advisor & CEO

Leadmore ®

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