Leveraging the IMGD model for improved Board Performance

IMGD-model for board performance
In this article, you'll find:

As a board member, one of your primary responsibilities is to ensure that your organization is operating at its highest potential. This means not only making strategic decisions and providing oversight, but also fostering a positive and productive group dynamic among board members, the highest strategic body of any company. One effective way to do this is by drawing inspiration from Susan Wheelan’s model for integrated group development – The IMGD model.

The model for integrated group development

Susan Wheelan’s model for integrated group development (IMDG) is a widely-recognized framework for understanding and improving group dynamics. It describes how group development follows a predictable series of stages, from the formation to the termination of the team. By understanding and actively working through each stage, groups can become high performing and effective at achieving their goals. In this article we discuss group development from the board perspective. Shown in the picture below is an illustration of the IMGD model.


In the first stage of group development, dependency, members are just getting to know each other and starting to establish their roles within the group. The state refers to the extent to which group members also rely on each other. In a highly dependent group, members may rely on the group for emotional, social, and practical support. Thereby creating a sense of interdependence among group members, where each person feels responsible for contributing to the group. In contrast, a group with low dependency have more individualistic members who are less reliant on the group for support. These members may be more self-sufficient, and may focus more on their own goals. At this stage, it is important for the chairperson to set clear expectations, and likewise provide structure and guidance. For example, the chairperson could facilitate introductions among members and establish ground rules for meetings.


The next stage is counter-dependency. As members begin to challenge each other within the group, conflicts and disagreements may arise. Counter dependency also refers to the tendency of some group members to resist or reject the dependency needs of others. This can occur when group members are uncomfortable with the idea of relying on others for support or resources, and may prefer to be self-sufficient and independent. This can be a challenging and uncomfortable stage, but it is also an important opportunity for the board to address and resolve any differences. For example, the board could establish a process for addressing conflicts and encourage open communication among members and try to unify on what is best for the company. Afterall, that should always be the guiding principle within the board. 


Once the board has worked through their opposing concerns or conflicts by establishing their roles and goals, they eventually will enter the level of trust. In this stage, members become more cohesive and begin to work together more effectively. They establish norms and expectations for how they will work together, and begin to make progress towards their goals. Trust is therefore an essential component of group dynamics, as it allows group members to feel safe and secure in their interactions with each other. Trust can be developed and strengthened over time through positive interactions and experiences within the group. For example, the board could develop a clear set of policies and procedures for decision-making and continue to follow their best praxis for conflict resolution. 


The fourth stage is productivity, where the board operates at its highest potential. In this stage, members are fully engaged and working together seamlessly to achieve team and company goals. They are able to handle conflicts and challenges effectively and are focused on continuous improvement. A productive group is able to use its collective skills, knowledge, and resources to complete tasks and achieve results. Often in a shorter amount of time than it would take individual group members to do so. At this stage, the board could establish regular evaluations and goal-setting sessions to ensure that they are on track and making progress.


Finally, the board will reach a final stage, where they wrap up the year and prepare for the next business cycle. This is an opportunity to reflect on the board’s accomplishments and to celebrate their success. At this stage, the board should hold a summarizing meeting to discuss what worked well and what could have been improved. They should also recognise individual members for their contributions. A board evaluation is an ideal way of saving time and resources. 

What can board evaluations do for your organization

Board evaluations can help the board assess their performance and identify areas for improvement at each stage of the group development process. These evaluations can provide valuable insights and feedback, as well as help the board progress towards the next stage and become a high performing team. You can read more about advantages with board evaluations in this article: 5 Reasons to conduct a board evaluation.


By using Susan Wheelan’s model for integrated group development as a framework, and incorporating governance evaluations, your board can improve their group dynamics and become high performing teams. By understanding and actively working through each stage, from the beginning stages to the end, boards can foster a positive and productive group dynamic and achieve their goals more effectively.

Share This Post
The leading platform for digital evaluations for boards, CEOs, and management teams.