Using a Recruiter to Build a Better Board of Directors
In a recent interview with Enterprise Minnesota Magazine the question was is it always better to recruit a board member blindly or by using a board of directors executive search firm. My response was I’m not sure there is a perfect answer for that. I’m a little bit biased because we are in the business of recruiting board members, but let me tell you why I think it is better to have people you do not know on your board to begin with. With it you get unbiased perspective and advice regarding the business. This is critical to the success of the effectiveness of the board. A true board member – remember, “nose in, fingers out,” – has to give objective, straightforward advice. If the CEO has some blind spots, or the board member does not agree with the current or proposed strategy – even if the CEO owns one hundred percent of the company – the board member has to be able to tell it straight.
Now, the counterargument is that many CEOs and business owners said, “I really need somebody I can trust, and I trust this person I know well.” The person you know and trust may not give the most objective advice because of the relationship. I do not buy that as much, because I think you lose too much by just having people you trust around you who are not willing to challenge you. You have got to be challenged, because if you do not get challenged, the competition and the marketplace will challenge you constantly. I am a big fan of really getting people, and going beyond your network, because you will most likely attract board members better suited than your own network.