How a Board Can Boost Your Business (Post 1 of 4)

Success-Failure-Board-of-AdvisorsWhile CEOs of publicly held companies ultimately are responsible to a board of directors, those of us running private companies do not share this mandate. A recent article in the April issue of Harvard Business Review, “What CEOs Really Think of Their Boards” by Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, Melanie Kusin and Elise Walton, reinforced the importance of soliciting a board’s perspective even for privately held companies such as Intertech.

The authors asked dozens of well-regarded CEOs the following questions: “What keeps boards from being as effective as they could be? Are they really the cartooned millstone around the CEO’s neck, or do they help shape the enterprise in positive ways? What can boards do to become a greater strategic asset?”

The answers are distilled into five recommendations:

  1. Boards should be careful not to rein in boldness too tightly.
  2. They should do their homework on the company and the industry at large.
  3. They should recognize that character and credentials, not celebrity, are what’s needed for a high-functioning board.
  4. Directors should overcome any conflict aversion and bring energetic, constructive debate to the boardroom—contrary to conventional wisdom, CEOs don’t want rubber-stamp approval of their plans.
  5. Directors should work to make the inherently fraught succession process less awkward, taking care not to overlook talent in the internal pipeline.

Ok, current and future board members, you have your marching orders!

But what should a CEO keep in mind when working with a board? And how can private companies benefit from the wisdom of an experienced board? In my next few posts I’ll explore this topic and share best practices from my past decade of work with Intertech’s stellar board of advisors.