How to Strategically Build a Board of Directors

build a board of directors

Outstanding board members certainly don’t grow on trees. In fact, finding the right group of business leaders to impact your organization for the better is a true challenge.

Not only must you consider individual fit and ability, but also how the group will work together. Here are some tips to help you tackle this undertaking in pursuit of exceptional corporate governance.

Think strategically about the organization of your board

Before you can expect directors to think strategically about your organization’s future, you need to think strategically about your board. First, take some time to consider what size board makes the most sense for your organization. Perhaps you’ve been operating with 7 members, but changing to 9 members makes sense for tactical reasons.

Don’t choose a number at random; be sure you can back up the decision with consideration and research. Next, update your board member job descriptions. Make sure that the expectations for directors are clear. You can’t anticipate success from anyone unless you’ve provided them with an outlook for their role.

Think strategically about the composition of your board

In other words, don’t just call up your closest friends in the business world and ask them to serve on your board. It might seem like the easy path, but it isn’t necessarily the most effective. Think about the variety of experience you’ll need in leadership.

Of course, you’ll want some know-how in classic board-related fields like finance and management, but consider whether you also need a tech expert, a marketer, an entrepreneur, or someone else with specialized experience. Depending on your company’s industry, these specialists can provide invaluable guidance.

As Bernie Tenenbaum writes for Forbes, “At the end of the day, you want your board to have a balance of voices that will guide you in achieving the strategic direction you have set.  The key is not to settle for the familiar but to reach for potential board members who will challenge your assumptions and motivate your team to perform at their best.”

Use your network in your search for candidates

Here’s the moment to reach out to your friends in business. Provide a detailed description for your leadership goals and ask them to suggest colleagues or acquaintances. Look for individuals with experience in adjoining industries, but try to avoid conflicts of interest. Professional organizations provide another good place to seek potential candidates.

Consider bringing in a CEO with experience running a company that has seen large growth and faced various organizational challenges. Need some help? If you have the monetary means, you can contemplate the benefits of hiring a consulting firm to assist with your search.

Thoroughly plan a vetting process

We’ve written a whole blog on this topic, but the bottom line is this: don’t be afraid to approach the vetting process from several angles. Be thorough and exacting during your reviews of each individual. Keep in mind that removing a board member is an arduous process, so it’s always worth your time to try to get the recruiting process right.

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