5 Areas Every Board Member Should Focus On

Posted in Board Development by Jim
17 Sep
5 Areas Every Board Member Should Focus On

Joining a board can be a rewarding experience, both personally and professionally. Sitting on a board is a great way to use your skills in other areas and share your experience.

While you are on a board you may wear many hats. In order to be an effective board member it’s important to remember what to focus on in order to make your role in the meetings as productive as they can be.

Here are five areas every board member should focus on:

1. The organization

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the company and industry before you join the board. Learn more about the company’s mission statement, operations, financial status, board structure and liability insurance.

According to Alice Korngold who provides strategy consulting to global corporations, you want to join the board of an company where you find the mission meaningful and make an impact. She continues by explaining that if you learn more about the company before you make a decision about joining the board you will avoid making a “bad match,” and you will have a better idea of what will be expected of you.

The first step would be to review the company’s website and social media pages. This is a great way to scratch the surface to learn what the public’s perception of the company is.

To dig a little deeper, take a look at documents that will help you including annual reports, the most recent audited financial statements, a list of current board members, brochures and articles of organization, and a history of the company. The chairman of the board should have these materials or they should be in the board manual.

2. The director and board members

Not only is it important to know the company you are serving, but it’s crucial to learn who is working with you in order to help the company grow. Learning more about the board members’ professional backgrounds can add to discussions and aid in teamwork to help.

According to Forbes.com, teamwork begins not with focusing on relationships or structure; it starts with goals, then crafting the mechanics to achieve them. Boards have a mandate to exercise their powers collectively, even though members are required to make their judgments as individuals. Boards that work as a team build a bridge between members’ personal viewpoints and collective decision-making.

Learn more about the members by networking. Show up ten minutes before the meetings starts and start a conversation with the early birds that may be there. Be prepared to ask questions as well as answer questions about yourself.

Another method to get to know your board members would be to connect with them via social media. LinkedIn is a great social media database for professionals.

3. Your goal of joining the board

As mentioned earlier, joining a board can be rewarding both professionally and personally, but looking past that and realizing what joining this board means to you is critical for you to be a productive board member.

Maybe you are looking to expand your professional network. Joining a board is an excellent way to network with local professionals. Or, you could be looking to strengthen your social skills. Overall, joining a board can help fulfill goals for yourself that you may not be able to do in your current career.

4. What is the focus of the board?

Every board has a focus and/or goal that they are working on. However, some of the focuses may not be as transparent.

No board meeting can be truly effective unless the majority of members are present. That is why it is very important to attend as many meetings as possible. If you are not able to make every meeting you can catch up by reading your board packets beforehand and reviewing minutes of the last meeting.

5. How can you contribute?

Remembering what your strengths and weaknesses are before you serve on a board. This is a great way to know what you can contribute to the board. Everyone comes with diverse professional and personal backgrounds that when mixed together can create a very effective board.

By knowing what you can contribute you can be a meaningful participant in every meeting. The best boards share a common goal and vision for their stakeholders and shareholders while working together to achieve it. No one person can run the whole show themselves.

There are many aspects to focus on as a board member. These are just a few areas to focus on to get a new or veteran board member in the right state-of-mind to be the most effective board member in the most productive method possible.

For more information on how Cardinal Board Services can help your company find your next board member call or click here.