Right Team 11.22.18 // Michael Canic

How Not to Have an Underperforming Board

How Not to Have an Underperforming Board

When building a winning team you should be concerned about more than just having the right managers and right employees. You should be concerned about having the right board.

Boards are often an overlooked part of a winning team yet even small companies can benefit from the perspectives, insights and guidance of a strong board. So how do you make sure you have a high-performing board?

1) Be clear on your objectives. Do you want people with connections, people who bring status and credibility, people with deep pockets, people with relevant business experience, or some combination of these? As with any position, be clear on what you’re looking for before you start looking.

2) Don’t overlook the importance of context. If you want board members with relevant business experience, then don’t overlook the importance of context. Expertise in one industry does not necessarily translate to another. Successfully growing a business is not the same as leading a turnaround. Competing in a mature market in not the same as competing in a start-up market. Success and failure often depend on context.

3) Make it more than a family affair. Family businesses often limit their board seats to family members. That’s a mistake. Family members may have no qualification other than being a family member. And family dynamics (and financial motives) can inhibit open and honest discussion about tough business issues such as the need to take risks and the underperformance of family members.

I always recommend having no less than two outside board members. Why two? Because it’s easy to marginalize one dissenting voice. Two seems to create a critical mass and makes those voices harder to ignore.

You don’t want an irrelevant board, you don’t want a rubber-stamp board, and you don’t want an entitled board. You want a high-performing board selected to meet your objectives. That kind of board is a critical part of a winning team.

Make it happen.

Michael

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