The Key to Finding a Superstar Board Member

Posted in Board Recruitment by Jim
26 Jun

Years ago, I was tasked with upgrading a private company’s board of directors. When I met with the Chairman of the Board, we discussed criteria for the next board member. Once that discussion was done, the Chairman said, “I want you to really stretch and find us a superstar!” We ended up hiring two board members at once—unable to pass up these stellar candidates.

The key strategy to finding these superstars included these steps:

  • Go outside your network. This is the most important factor. People that know you are not going to give you purely objective feedback.
  • Go big. Find people that have already walked your path with relevant challenges. If you are a $100M company, find someone who has worked for a $200M or larger organization.
  • Don’t settle for a person who has one attribute you need on your board. Find someone with at least three.
  • Stress-test the person. Take the person on a company tour and notice how interested the person is in the operation. Do they ask insightful questions? Do they exhibit both an interest and an understanding of your business?
  • Get outside opinion. Have the candidate meet with multiple people you trust. This group of people should consist of varying personalities and perspectives in order to fairly judge whether or not the candidate is right for your board.
  • House call. Visit the potential candidate at their office to see how they handle themselves in their natural environment.

This is no small task, as you can tell. Reach out and ask for help from a board professional that has experience in recruiting “superstars.”