Being an Effective Board Chairman

effective board chairman

Effective leadership is a topic that has been visited and revisited by business publications, psychology magazines, and more. People have a lot to say about leadership and what makes a particular style of leadership great. But when it comes to board leadership, what really puts a board chair a head above the rest?

  1. Effective board chairs seek meaningful contact between board meetings.

According to Harvard Business Review, “Impromptu discussions strengthen a board’s hand on the company’s pulse. Keeping board members informed also minimizes the time spent on background that slows up regular board meetings.” When board chairs take the lead to spark conversation outside of meetings, other board members are more likely to follow suit. At Directorpoint, we encourage this sort of collaboration outside of the meeting with our member-to-member messaging system. Instead of clogging one another’s inboxes, board members can reach out to their cohorts quickly and easily both during and outside of meeting times.
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Three Ways to Liven Up Board Meetings

liven up board meetings

Board of directors meetings are notoriously long—sometimes lasting upwards of 4 or 5 hours for boards that meet less frequently. Meanwhile, in the age of tech, we’re also being told we have attention spans shorter than a goldfish. So how do we liven up board meetings to help the collaborative and innovative nature of the boardroom thrive?

  1. Incorporate movement.

This is a strategy that elementary school teachers have been employing for decades. When they see their students growing antsy or bored, they encourage kids to get up and dance around or do some group exercises. Then, they refocus the students to the task at hand, or they incorporate the movement into the actual task.

OK, so maybe we’re not going to see board members dancing around the boardroom, but the principle behind this tactic is a good one: the happier and looser our bodies are, the easier it is for our minds to focus. So how do we translate it? It can be as simple as employing a series of really regular bathroom breaks or as involved as incorporating some stretching elements into the actual meetings. Either way, board members need time to decompress physically and mentally. Marathon-ing through a 4-hour meeting probably won’t lead to top-notch attention and involvement.
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The Paperless Boardroom: Less Is More

Confident accountant doing financial reports being surrounded by business partners with huge piles of documents

Large companies have been going paperless for years now, and there are countless reasons why it’s a major trend. Even though the benefits are plentiful, many boards of directors haven’t followed suit. They have remained firmly tied to old ways of printed board packets either out of habit, fear of change, or both.

At Directorpoint, we’re big believers in the paperless boardroom for many reasons—some of which are similar to why companies are headed that direction in general. In addition to the fact, that it’s just plain good for our environment, we’ve compiled a list of reasons why creating a paperless boardroom can bring your board better results overall.

  1. Going paperless saves time.

Board members are some of the busiest people in the business world. Typically, their time is limited and therefore, highly valuable. Using a system like Directorpoint that eliminates the need for paper saves time prepping for meetings as well as time used during meetings. Board software “keeps everyone on the same page” without actually involving any pages!

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What Can Corporate Boards and Nonprofit Boards Learn from Each Other?

learning from nonprofit boards

Nonprofit boards of directors and corporate boards have a lot in common. Both groups of leaders exist to guide and better an organization through strategic leadership. Board members bring their various talents and experiences to the table in order to collaborate for a better end goal.

There are some innate differences between these two groups, though. For example, a nonprofit board focuses on gaining a deep understanding of its organization’s mission and seeks out ways to promote it in an ever-changing world. For corporate boards, however, loyalty belongs to shareholders. As Beginnger’s Invest puts it, “The primary responsibility of a corporate board of directors is to protect the shareholders’ assets and ensure they receive a decent return on their investment. The board of directors owes its shareholders the highest financial duty.”

Although these two types of boards have a different “chief goal” in sight, they can actually learn a lot from their counterparts.

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Better Boards: Avoid Data Inundation

Avoid Data Inundation

If you’ve ever been to a board of directors meeting, you know that they are stuffed to the gills with information: documents for review, presentations, votes, financial reports, and so much more. These meetings are not for the faint of heart; board members spend a large amount of time poring over the latest company statistics. They have to be prepared to dive into a sea of data and information while maintaining a “big picture” mindset in order to help steer their organization into a successful future.

Most board members will tell you that data inundation is a major nonstarter and can make their role at your organization more difficult. As one Business Insider columnist writes, “Boards are there to strategically direct management for success and growth—overwhelming them with data will get them in the weeds and off the strategic path.” In other words, if boards spend the majority of their meeting time reviewing past facts and figures, it hampers their ability to spend time in strategic brainstorming.

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Corporate Secretaries in the Digital Age

corporate secretaries

For as long as boards of directors have existed, corporate secretaries (sometimes referred to simply as board secretaries) have played a significant role. In fact, a recent increase in regulatory legislation has expanded and re-emphasized the role of the corporate secretary—making them more pivotal than ever to the overall success of the board. Simply put, a corporate secretary is the record keeper for a board of directors. They keep meeting minutes, oversee the agenda, and manage historical documentation for the board. Sometimes, based on specific needs at an organization, boards will assign other duties to their corporate secretary, too. Being an excellent corporate secretary is no easy feat—it is definitely one of the most demanding positions on an executive board.

As the corporate world has moved farther and farther into the digital age, the landscape of the boardroom has progressed to embrace technological advances. Once upon a time, boards relied heavily on printed board packets and agendas—a practice that is closely linked with the duties of corporate secretaries. With the introduction of the Internet and email, boards were able to communicate more quickly and efficiently.

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Nurturing Junior Boards

nurturing junior boards

Over the past decade, the number of junior boards serving nonprofit organizations has risen dramatically. According to Guidestar, the largest nonprofit information site, statistics show that 74% of millennial professionals are eager to get involved with charitable causes and networking within their community. Furthermore, 84% of millennials made a charitable donation in the past year. These statistics bode well for nonprofit executives who are striving to fundraise during recovery economic times.

Harnessing the creativity and enthusiasm of younger leaders has been a boon to the nonprofit community. The investment in junior boards has helped many charitable causes connect with and access a younger donor base. Millennials have gained from these partnerships, too; they’ve gotten the chance to prove their capabilities as networkers and fundraisers while also advancing their personal connections in the business community.

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Board Member Success Tools

board member success toolsIf you follow many of the major business news sites, you’ll find a lot of advice about what makes a board of directors truly successful. Some argue that it’s a commitment to diversity, and others insist that you need to have outstanding leadership. Some writers advocate that you need to find members who have all the right qualities. We agree with all of these articles, but we also believe that companies and organizations have an obligation to give their board members the right tools to succeed, and board of directors software definitely fits that bill.

Board members tend to be busy individuals. They may be C-level executives from other companies or business owners themselves. Whatever their backgrounds might be, board members’ time is a precious commodity. And what better way to make use of it than to streamline all of their communications for their roles on your board of directors? Board management software simplifies the way that organizations share information with their boards while also encouraging collaboration among members.

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The Value of Simple Board Meeting Software

simple board meeting software

The Internet is chock-full of articles about simplifying your life. You’ll find essays about how de-cluttering your desk helps “de-clutter” your mind. You’ll read pitches for minimalistic approaches to everything: home design, graphic design, software design, and more. And you’re bound to come across a list (or twenty) of steps you can take to streamline your day in order to buy more time.

The people writing these articles must be on to something, right? It makes sense that simplifying your life would lead to less stress and more time for you to live in the moment. So how does that roll over into your business practices? And more specifically, how can you live more simply as an executive who serves on a board of directors?

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Directorpoint Feature Spotlight: Historical Information

historical software feature

Research suggests that outstanding leaders allocate time for reflection. As organizational leaders, it is important for board members to reflect on organizational progress, to revisit successes, and to learn from mistakes. Proper reflection requires reviewing historical records and comparing expectations with outcomes. For instance: did we hire the right executive and compensate them appropriately, did we achieve the strategic objectives, and did we implement the right policies and controls?

Boards relying on binders and PDFs hinder reflection by making it more challenging for board members to reference historical information. For example, if a board member is interested in reviewing previous meeting minutes or analyzing year-over-year comparisons, they will often need to contact the board secretary and request a copy of the materials. The additional steps and time required to acquire historical information inhibit all but the most determined board members. That’s where one of Directorpoint’s most valuable features comes in: anytime access to historical events and information.

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