What Makes a Successful Board Member


A board member who is successful takes their responsibilities seriously and can make a significant contribution. They should be able to make difficult decisions, make smart choices, and keep the bigger picture in mind while bringing a unique perspective from their own experiences. A strong board of directors can assist the organization in achieving its mission and goals by providing guidance and oversight. They will have a strong determination to see the organization succeed and aren’t scared to speak their mind.

While having a lot of connections is important for organizations however, they should focus on attracting people who are committed to the cause and willing to invest their time. It is also crucial to ensure that your board members possess the necessary qualifications. According to Institutional Shareholder Services, the boards of Enron, Kmart, and the troubled retail company Warnaco all had board members with a variety of financial competencies and expertise–including former Stanford deans who are also accounting professors, an eminent Asian financier, and the former head of the U.S. government’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission. But these credentials weren’t enough to stop the companies from falling.

Attendance at board meetings is often viewed as an indication of a responsible member. But as Stanford GSB adjunct professor of corporate governance Nell Minow points out, this measure alone doesn’t distinguish boards that are good from bad. Attendance records for the boards of GE and WorldCom (which were both included on Fortune’s 2001 list as the most loved companies) have little to show.

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