What Makes a Successful Board Member


A board member who is successful is one who takes their responsibilities seriously and contributes to the organization in an effective way. They need to be able to take difficult decisions, to think strategically and keep the bigger vision in mind while providing their own perspective based on their personal experience. A well-run board can help the organization reach its goals and objectives by providing guidance and supervision. They will be driven to see the organization thrive and will not be afraid to share their opinions.

While having a large number of connections is crucial organisations should focus on recruiting people who care deeply about the cause and are willing to commit their time. It is also essential to ensure that your board members possess the necessary skills. According to Institutional Shareholder Services, the boards of Enron, Kmart, and the ailing retailer Warnaco all had members with a range of financial expertise and skills–including former Stanford deans who were accounting professors and a well-known Asian financier, and the former head of the U.S. government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission. But these credentials were not enough to prevent the businesses from going under.

Participation in board meetings is also often regarded as an indication of a responsible member. But as Stanford GSB adjunct professor of corporate governance Nell Minow points out, this measure alone isn’t enough to distinguish the boards that are good or bad. The attendance records of the boards of GE and WorldCom (which were both listed on Fortune’s list of 2001’s most loved companies) reveal little distinction.

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