How To Provide Value as a Board Member

by Leo Pound on January 12, 2015

Board-Value-Blog-HeaderBeing a board member is not just about sitting in a room four times a year and discussing the company’s position.  There are responsibilities beyond those in-person meetings and considerations before you say yes to a potential board appointment.  I am on several boards.  You can read about them here.  Each company and therefor, each board position is different. There are some boards where we meet once per quarter and have very little contact in between. Yet, in stark contrast, I am on some boards that still meet once per quarter, but have several meetings in between.  Some are in-person, some via phone and some require hours and hours after traditional business hours.  It also varies greatly depending on the company.  Family-owned regional boards and multi-national companies have very different needs and expectations.  As a result, their Boards will be very different not only in time commitment, but also in experience.

One very important question to ask yourself before you accept a board position is;

What I mean by this is, can you provide value, can you commit to the time needed to serve, does your personality and business style mesh well with the group and are you able to offer the company expertise in a field where the current board can benefit?  Once you have determined that you are a good fit for the company in question, now consider how you will provide value.

There are a few key ways to provide value as a board member.  Each CEO or Chairman of the Board will certainly have his/her own style of running a company and a Board, and that certainly needs to be considered.  In general, here are three ways to provide value as a board member;

Share Your Expertise.  Many boards suffer from not having members with a broad range of expertise and experience.  If your expertise is managing operations, cost cutting or leading a customer service team, use that expertise to improve the company who’s board you are serving on.

Share Your Opinions.  Sharing your opinions is crucial, but only if they are backed with knowledge and facts.  Board decisions are not based on feelings, but facts.  Sure, we all have gut instincts and they are usually right.  But when it comes to corporate decisions they must be based on solid numbers, solid data and complete information.

Be Available. Your job as a board member is not to just attend four meetings per year.  It is also to be available when the other board members or company leaders need you.  Sometimes this might be a planned additional meeting, other times it could be a last minute conference call or dinner meeting.

As I mentioned earlier, I am currently serving on several boards.  They range from a regional family-owned business to a multi-national large corporation. While each board has it’s own character, the goals and objectives are nearly always the same: to help the business thrive.

A board’s true measure is how members can help the CEO move the company forward in a positive way for all stakeholders. It’s also to focus the CEO on areas we see that can benefit from change.  Most boards are comprised of a diverse group of individuals. The experience brought to the table by those members is priceless.

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Leo Pound

As Pound Consulting Inc.’s founder and principal, Leo Pound is responsible for day-to-day operations, as well as building partnerships, maintaining relationships and providing value to all clients. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Leo has spent most of his career helping companies around the world.  He has worked with many multi-national companies – including ones based or operating in China, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Japan and more. He has in- depth knowledge of operational and strategic planning, M&A, forecasting and budgeting and cost containment. Leo is a hands-on professional who is sensitive to the pressures and challenges facing a troubled or rapidly growing company and their management team.

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