Whether you are a new or seasoned board member, the following seven tips will improve your effectiveness and value addition on the board. For more practical insights, buy the book, 7 tools of an effective board member.
- Know how your value addition will be evaluated
Know the appointing authority. And clarity on how your value will be evaluated. Make sure this is well stated in your appointment letter. If you are a lawyer, for example, the value you bring on the table is your legal expertise. During your time on the board, it is expected the company shall avoid entering contracts that could lead to huge legal costs and obligations now or in the future. Besides, all the existing contracts and cases should be addressed by you so that the company or organization is positioned on a strong legal risk-free.
- Establish a relationship with the board chairman, other fellow board members, and the executive
The board is as strong as the strengths of team cohesion among the members. Be close to the Board chairman. Know his or her agenda and leadership style.
Make sure the chair knows your speciality and core skills. This way, your technical opinion shall be sought on major items. If you are an engineer, let the Board and other board members know of the value you bring on the table. That way you can serve on the relevant technical committees of the board. Know the executive but do not become too familiar and increase the risk of a possible conflict of interest.
- Review the CEO scorecard and how it links to the Board scorecard
Review the CEO scorecard and contract. Understand the targets the board has set for the CEO. That way, you have the right questions to ask when assessing the performance of the CEO. In some companies, the CEO doubles as the Board chairman. In that case, understanding the CEO scorecard helps understand the board scorecard.
The board appoints the CEO and therefore must evaluate the incumbent’s performance. As a board member, if you don’t know the targets of the CEO, it would become difficult to add value at board meetings since the board agendas must be such that they help the executive deliver on their targets.
Read the profile of the CEO and other executive managers and all fellow board members to understand their experiences and perspectives on issues. Remember, the more you know the other members, the easier you can support as well as influence them.
- Review key company documents
If you want to win in your role, review the key company documents. Read the annual report, the legal documents like formation documentation like acts of parliament or constitution or MEMARTS. And of course, read all the provided board papers. There is nothing that makes a board member look illiterate than having been given board papers but not reading them and they ask questions already addressed in the board paper packs at the board meeting.
- Attend all board meetings
If you want to be part of the action, do not miss board meetings. The formal forum where the board adds value to the company is at the board meetings. Make sure you attend after adequate preparation. Understand the board processes and manage accordingly.
- Have a habit of following up the implementation of board resolutions
Avoid being part of a board that talks without action. Make sure you follow up on management to ensure agreed upon resolutions and directives are implemented.
That way, you can see whether you are adding value or not.
Discuss the impact of your resolutions and keep refining them to be better.
Do you have any tips you think I may have missed? Add it below.
Remember, the above tips could be applied in many instances including at management meetings.
Copyright Mustapha B Mugisa, 2020. All rights reserved.