Board Leadership Training

Numerous studies conclude that well-governed companies worldwide perform better in financial terms. Good governance starts with a well-functioning board of directors that is at the heart of a company’s corporate governance framework and is crucial to ensuring all other governance components are working effectively.

The Business Case 

Most codes of best practice in corporate governance require board directors to undergo periodic training to improve their knowledge and skills, so they can become better leaders and change agents of their companies. Based on IFC’s experience, many common problems inhibit a board’s ability to perform these functions effectively:

  • Board roles and responsibilities are unclear and/or overlap with management functions
  • Directors do not fully understand or embrace their duties as board members
  • Board composition lacks diversity, relevant skills, experience, or objectivity
  • Proper board committees do not exist or do not function effectively
  • Board procedures are poorly designed, inhibiting board efficiency and effectiveness

IFC's Response 

To address these issues, IFC developed and launched the Corporate Governance Board Leadership Training Resources Toolkit in 2008. Through the program, experienced trainers strengthen their skills for conducting interactive training sessions and learn how to use the training resources designed to replicate the boardroom environment to train board directors in emerging-market and developing countries.
The toolkit provides a framework to help assess a company’s board effectiveness and identify root causes to board performance issues. It includes guidance on best practice design and ideal behavioral characteristics.

The toolkit is introduced to local markets through IFC's partner institutions, such as Institutes of Directors, corporate governance associations, and universities.

Since its launch, trainers from about 60 countries have completed the IFC's Training of Trainers program.


Regional and Country Examples 

Europe and Central Asia: In Tajikistan, IFC and Tajikistan’s national bank representatives held a workshop to explore the role of the board directors in strengthening banks’ governance in support of extensive corporate governance reform. The workshop focused on taking concrete actions to improve the quality of interaction between all related parties, establish a clear division of power and responsibility, increase the effectiveness of supervisory board activities, schedule annual board meetings, and carry out annual evaluations.

Latin America and the Caribbean: In Washington D.C., IFC and the Network of Institutes of Corporate Governance of Latin America (IGCLA) hosted the second annual effective board leadership meeting tailored to the unique needs of board directors in the region. Board directors from regional companies focused on strategies, techniques, and best practices to govern effectively, key challenges and dilemmas faced by boards of emerging market companies today.

Middle East and North Africa: In Lebanon, IFC’s new initiative, the Corporate Directors Certification Program for board directors launched in partnership with Excellence in Governance Lebanon, to help board members and senior managers build the governance skills and provide tools they can use to improve their companies’ corporate governance practices.

South Asia: In Sri Lanka, at the board leadership training for board directors, IFC experts led sessions on board composition, structure, practices, and procedures with the goal to help them build their governance skills. In India, IFC led sessions at a new accredited Directors’ Club certification program, designed to prepare directors for board service.

Sub-Saharan Africa: In Sierra Leone, as a part of a new partnership between IFC and Sierra Leone’s Institute of Chartered Accountants, IFC facilitated a training program for board members and other programs aimed at small and medium enterprises focusing on succession planning and teaching about ways to ensure long-term sustainability. The goal is to deepen the pool of potential directors with the skills to serve on company boards. 


July 2018

Related Links:

Handbook: IFC Family Business Governance

User Group Review Workshop
February 2010

Supplement to Toolkit: Governing Banks, 2010

Toolkit: Corporate Governance Board Leadership Resources, 2008

Case Studies of Good Corporate Governance Practices, 2006

Lessons Learned:

Institutes Share Successes and Challenges in Training Board Directors to Lead Corporate Governance Reforms, June 2010

Learn Before You Lead: The Corporate Governance Board Leadership Training Resources Kit, January 2010

Corporate Governance Leadership Program: Assessment Stimulates Program Thrust, April 2008


Private Sector Opinions:

Headaches, Concerns, and Regrets: What Does the Experience of 102 Brazilian Directors Tell Us? PSO 39, April 2017

The Company Secretary as Polymath, PSO 34, June 2014

Leveraging Board Assessment for Sustained Performance
PSO 33, May 2014

A Corporate Governance Model: Building Responsible Boards and Sustainable Business, PSO 17, March 2010

Where Were the Directors? 
PSO 12, May 2009

Board Performance Evaluation
PSO 9, June 2008

Reform Realism and the Boardroom
PSO 6, September 2007


Other Publications:

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises, 2015

OECD Principles of Corporate Governance, 2015

Corporate Governance in Swenglish - an adaptation of the IFC’s Board Leadership training materials and Swedish CG cases, produced by the Baltic Institute of Corporate Governance, 2010

Corporate Governance of Non-Listed Companies in Emerging Markets
OECD, 2006

Experiences from the Regional Corporate Governance Roundtables, OECD, 2003



Ghita Alderman | Washington, DC
+1 (202) 458-2905 |