Whether you are involved in a small farming operation or a large corporate or co-operative business, the smooth sailing and success of the business depends on good governance.

At its heart governance is the process of leading, controlling and directing a business so that it delivers desired outcomes for the owners – so at board level you need to figure out what those desired outcomes are. Then you need to set a strategy for getting there and navigate the way of ensuring you and your team carry out the strategy – within the law, without blowing the budget and while being good employers.

In our special report we take a look at governance and profile a couple of experienced farmer directors who say that getting the right people involved in governance of your enterprise is paramount.

If you are wanting just one independent director or adviser then their character or personal style in dealing with others is really important as it can be quite divisive if you have the wrong person, says Fonterra director Peter McBride.

Character and wisdom is right up there – you want someone with a broad knowledge and experience, but also insightfulness and clarity of thought – the ability to have learned through experience, he told Anne Lee.

Diversity around the board table is often talked about but Lindy Nelson says diversity goes beyond gender – it’s about ethnicity, experiences, capability and perspectives – and to work it has to be about inclusion.

Diverse experience and viewpoints at a board table are of no use if they are not included in the discussion and decision-making.

Early in my governance career I felt like one of the token ‘diverse genders’ around the board table and while we were welcomed, I didn’t really feel included by the old guard – it felt like a masterclass in “a pat on the head, thanks for coming, but you don’t really understand the issues…” I hope times are changing as the old guard shuffles off and boards realise the importance of a more diverse mix in their governance team.

If you think governance might be for you, read about how Bridie Virbickas decided to upskill in the area, by attending the Fonterra Governance Development programme.

Governance training is a great idea and readily accessible – including the new governance education offerings from the Co-operative Business NZ group.

With the general election coming up we put our Wellington-based journalist Phil Edmonds on to taking a look at who is up for election or re-election with mud on their boots, and who indeed has boots of any sort at their back door.

With just a matter of weeks to go, it’s important to do your research and make an informed decision on who you want to be steering us through the choppy waters of the Covid-19 pandemic,
Good luck,

Jackie Harrigan