Understanding Board Dynamics — Nora N. Crouch

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Nora Crouch — a promoter of financial integrity and an authentic relationship builder. Her board and audit committee insights come from years of direct and indirect experiences. Having spent 15 years as a Fortune 500 C-suite executive, her financial perspective on strategic matters is impeccable — which is what makes her insights so invaluable.

We set up a discussion with Nora, to learn more about her views on and experiences with boards.

Nora, your understanding of board dynamics is deeply rooted in your previous experiences. You have not only been a part of boards, but you have also observed boards as a ‘third person’. How has this given you a unique perspective towards the functioning of a board? And how will you apply your learnings to your next potential role as a board member?

“Actually, I bring perspective from both sides to the boardroom table. On one hand, I have been presenting information and strategy directly to a public company audit committee and its board. But I also served as a non-executive board member at a privately held company.

“I understand the executive team’s role in setting strategy and driving outcomes, and I understand the demands and challenges they face in doing so. And, I understand the importance of a board’s role in governance and oversight, as well as the board’s ultimate responsibility to maximizing value for the company’s shareholders.

“In my experience, board members need to be not only strategic thinkers but also relationship builders. I have found that the most effective board members are those who bring a diversity of thought, are open to listening to and learning from others. And they are comfortable asking the tough questions or pushing for change when needed.

“Finding the appropriate balance between supporting management and protecting the interests of shareholders is an important role that needs to be played by the board of directors. I have the good fortune to having been mentored by great board members who have clearly demonstrated this skill. As a former non-executive board member, I have also had personal experience finding that balance myself.

“My learnings from those experiences inspire me to be a board member moving forward. I’m committed to learning about the company and its drivers for success. I have seen that the most successful board members obtain as much knowledge as possible. This adds to their credibility with both the executive team and their fellow board members. Especially when tough times are being experienced or when those tough questions need to be asked.

“I also have seen the impact of strong, inclusive relationships between board members on board effectiveness. This observation, combined with my personal curiosity, inspires me to be equally committed to getting to know and better understand my fellow board members both inside and outside of the boardroom. As a people person and relationship builder by nature, I am motivated to engage and communicate positively with others and enjoy the power of partnership. I believe these characteristics are important elements of establishing a good board dynamic, which — as my experience has shown me — directly impacts the board’s ability to generate economic value for the company’s shareholders.

“I’m convinced that my values must align with the culture of the company, board, and executive team. My experience has shown me that great directors are those who want to make the company the best it can be and those who have an ownership mindset. That’s the type of board directors I’d be honored to serve with.”

Thank you for sharing, Nora. I’m looking forward to our next conversation.

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