A thriving board is critical for any organization. An impactful board will not only offer operational and strategic guidance, but it will also help your organization to define its purpose. Here are some suggestions on how to create an impactful board of directors or advisors:
Seek Diverse Perspectives
A leading motivation to welcome outsiders onto your board is that it negates allegations of insider collusion. However, its real worth lies in the value of varied perspectives. Through the totality of their expertise and life experiences, diversely-talented individuals bring unique insights and create a board worth more than the sum of its parts.
With the outsider perspective comes a greater likelihood that they will not rubberstamp your every proposal, either. It may not initially seem so but that is an immense advantage, pushing you to rigorously test and evaluate ideas before attempting to implement them. The intellectual honesty and operational transparency this fosters is invaluable.
One of the most undervalued responsibilities of a board member is to attract promising talent. This may range from senior executives to mid-level management positions. Your board candidate should already have a good network and an ear to the ground regarding developments in related industries. Look also to inspiring personalities, the individuals for whom people will go the extra mile and work that extra hour. They can invigorate performance even without bringing in new talent.
Two numbers matter: first, the number of board members and, second, their ages. With a board that is too small, you risk hyper-concentrating dialog and dissent, creating an echo chamber insulated to new ideas and prospects. Too large and it becomes an unwieldy behemoth bogged down in over-analysis and middling attendance.
Meanwhile, the common perception is that a board of older members is less effective or less agile. Research suggests the opposite. An experienced group of executives with vast personal networks and deep knowledge outperform bold and brazen newcomers. Consider each prospective member independently; age is only a number.
Consistency of direction and leadership is a reassuring feature for both stakeholders and shareholders. In selecting a board member, consider whether they will be a fit for at least five to seven years. That “fit” refers to their alignment with the company culture, the other board members and, most importantly, their fit with you.
Just as important for you at this juncture is an awareness of who not to have on your board. At the head of this list are individuals actively seeking board positions. The odds are that their priorities of personal advancement will overshadow any dedication to the company.
At DeSantis Trusted Advisors, I provide consulting, advisory, and coaching services to business leaders and their stakeholders with the goal of creating pathways to success. Please contact me today to discuss how we can work together in the future.