Board Member Onboarding Done Right

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When boards welcome a new director, the focus should be on setting that individual up for success. Whether the person is a first-time board member or a veteran of corporate governance, offering them a purposeful orientation process can go a long way toward building a strong leadership team. While slight variations will exist, the basic principles of productive onboarding are universal whether your company is public, private, or not-for-profit. Consider these suggestions and how they can take your board to a higher level of effectiveness.
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Understanding Executive Search Firms

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Sometimes, finding the right board member can be a difficult process—especially for larger companies who are looking for a leader with a lot of experience. Many of the most successful directors already serve on multiple boards, so it’s no easy feat to convince them to consider a new opportunity. In other instances, organizations simply don’t have the internal resources or network necessary to find the best candidates—not to mention evaluate them. These are the moments when a board might consider utilizing the services of an executive search firm.
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What Is Directors and Officers (D&O) Insurance?

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Insurance is pivotal to the existence of any private organization. Companies often have to purchase a variety of coverage options to ensure their business is completely safeguarded: property insurance, liability protection, loss control assurance, and more. D&O insurance is one more type of specialty coverage that companies with boards of directors should consider purchasing.

According to Investopedia, “Directors and officers (D&0) liability insurance is insurance coverage intended to protect individuals from personal losses if they are sued as a result of serving as a director or an officer of a business or other type of organization. It can also cover the legal fees and other costs the organization may incur as a result of such a suit.”
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Company Culture Starts With Corporate Governance

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You’ve seen the headlines—“company culture” is one of the most-covered topics in business leadership over the past couple of years. You can read about why you shouldn’t just let your company culture happen. You can explore “Why Corporate Culture Is Becoming More Important.” And, of course, you can dive into how certain types of company culture will boost your organization’s performance.

Before we launch into how company culture begins with the board, let’s define the term we’re using. According to Wikipedia, company culture (also referred to as organizational culture) “encompasses values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization…and includes the organization’s vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, environment, location, beliefs, and habits.” Yes, that’s a long definition! To simplify, though, company culture is created through a blend of the practices, policies, and people that make up an organization.
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When Your Board Gets Bored

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At times, board service can be exciting, engaging, and groundbreaking. Board members might have the opportunity to lead the revitalization of a struggling company or discover new avenues for growth. Board service will occasionally feel tedious or rote, though. The truth is that being on a board involves some repetitive practices, but that doesn’t mean that directors’ eyes have to glaze over during meetings.

So how can you keep things fresh and focused on a strategic future? Here are some of our suggestions:

Don’t let the agenda become an afterthought.

We’ve shared our thoughts on creating better board agendas here, but this topic is important when it comes to keeping board meetings fresh, too. The agenda-building process should be interactive, and board members need to think critically about how to structure them from month to month. Rather than adopting a system that just rolls over after every meeting, challenge your board to create agendas that will spark new conversations.
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Noteworthy Books About Corporate Governance

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Sure, the Internet has made it easy to read bite-sized articles on all the latest trends in board membership—in fact, you’re reading one of those right now. But are you looking to take a deeper dive into the world of corporate governance? Well, we have some suggestions for you!

  1. Dear Chairman

This fascinating read by hedge fund manager and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, Jeff Gramm, digs deep into the ever-evolving relationship between corporate directors and shareholder activists. “Gramm analyzes different eras and pivotal boardroom battles from the last century to understand the factors that have caused shareholders and management to collide. Throughout, he uses the letters to show how investors interact with directors and managers, how they think about their target companies, and how they plan to profit.”
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Dealing With a Boardroom Bully

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While many of you may have hoped that bullying behaviors ended with high school, the sad truth is that sometimes even the boardroom has a bully problem. The tactics won’t be the same as when you were growing up, but they can still cause a great deal of discomfort. Perhaps your boardroom bully constantly cuts people off when they’re speaking or refuses to put topics on the agenda. Maybe they work behind the scenes to manipulate or intimidate fellow board members. Not only can these behaviors create awkward situations, they can also have a deeply negative effect on your board’s ability to function.

So how do you handle a tricky situation like this? Here are some of our suggestions:
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Best Websites for Board-Related Education

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Let’s face it, these days the board landscape is shifting and evolving at lightning speed. It can be difficult to stay up-to-date on all the latest trends in corporate governance. At Directorpoint, we do our best to help keep you knowledgeable with our weekly newsletter, but where should you go looking for information when questions arise? We’ve compiled this helpful guide to tell you about some of the most useful board resource websites.

  1. The National Association for Corporate Directors (NACD)

NACD has been providing directors with news and educational information for more than 40 years. Although it takes a paid membership to access all of their materials, they also share articles and information frequently via social media. Their monthly magazine, Directorship, is always chock-full of valuable guidance and news-related activity in the board sphere.
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The First-Time Board Member Checklist

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Board membership is an adventure in leadership unlike any other. Individuals who are new to the role of director will be challenged in new and unique ways. In order to meet this challenge head-on, they’ll need to continually develop their expertise while adjusting to a system of checks and balances that is meant to help bring the best decisions forward.

An experienced CEO or CFO may jump into a first-time board position with a lot of confidence, and that’s a good thing! But they also need to understand the ways in which their role will differ from the internal positions they’ve held in the past. Here are some tips for making a smooth transition from business leader to board member extraordinaire.
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What Does Good Governance Look Like?

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It’s easy to talk about strengthening your board of directors, but how do you know when you’ve reached a high-functioning level of corporate governance? In this day and age, building and maintaining a successful board means checking off many different boxes. As the role of the corporate director continues to expand and technology keeps leaping forward, board members should take the time to reflect on their impact as individuals and as a group. Here are some signs that your board is thriving:

  1. Directors have a firm understanding of their responsibilities.

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