A CEO Guide to Board Management

board management

Although the midday temperatures remain warm, the sun is rising later each morning and the occasional tree reveals turning leaves. Autumn is upon us and my six-week summer hiatus from board meetings is behind me for another year.

I wish I could say that my return to active directorship was gentle, but board calendars tend to be dormant or deadly. As a result, I’ve attended a rash of board and committee meetings lately and had the pleasure of seeing the scrum with fresh eyes. Thanks to the boards on which I serve and the others that I advise, I’m swimming in new lessons in good governance.

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Acts of Service: 5 Ways Board Directors Pay It Forward and Win

Tamara Paton | The Boardroom Blueprint | Giving

Some parents shake off sleep while watching their children play hockey. Others applaud basketball games or gymnastics meets. In light of their gene pool, however, I don’t expect my children to be particularly remarkable at any athletic pursuit.

Instead, my husband and I have spent years nurturing their appreciation for great music. In particular, we focus on classic rock. It’s our obligation as parents to share the fundamentals of reading, writing, and Rolling Stones.

Chances are that you also have opportunities to share your passion and knowledge with someone. In particular, you have gifts that would benefit your fellow directors and those aspiring to join you in the boardroom. Consider these five acts of service as you look to share your expertise and experience with others.

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Social Courage: 3 Opportunities to Stand Out on Boards

social courage

Lately I’ve been binge-listening to Revisionist History, Malcolm Gladwell’s new podcast that revisits a forgotten or misunderstood aspect of the past. (If you haven’t caught the program yet, stop reading and go listen immediately.)

In a recent episode, Gladwell asked why we make suboptimal choices when in the company of others. Why does our desire to fit in hold us back?

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Communication: How to Sell an Idea to Colleagues

communication idea

One of the great benefits of serving on multiple boards is the opportunity to apply learning from one environment to another. It’s even better when a colleague’s stumble in one setting helps you avoid face-planting elsewhere.

I attended a meeting this week that started off all wrong. A consultant who supports one of my board committees floundered before we even got started. The purpose of the meeting wasn’t clear. The prepared materials were vague and wandering. And when directors sounded the alarm via email, the advisor went silent for days.

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The Grey Zone: How to Navigate Subtle Conflicts of Interest

conflicts of interest

Last week, I found myself out of a job. A new owner took control of Carson-Dellosa Publishing and my five years of work there came to an end. Dollars were wired into the ether and my board CV was out of date. This outcome wasn’t a surprise. As a private equity-backed company, a sale was…

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Now Hear This: How Listening Defines Your Board Career


In this lively election year, an interesting story about Hillary Clinton’s likability is circulating online. Specifically, it explores why those who know Ms. Clinton like her while others dislike her from a distance. Political columnist Ezra Klein floats a few possible explanations before landing one that sticks: Hillary listens.

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Boundaries & Your Board Career: How to Excel by Saying “No”


An acquaintance of mine recently hit me with a hard sell. She wanted me to attend an event and I was doing my best to gracefully decline. As a last resort, she lamented that “a number of people will be disappointed by your absence.”

Perhaps that would influence others, but I didn’t budge. Disappointment isn’t new to me. I have to disappoint people every day. It’s just a matter of making sure I don’t let the most important people down.

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The Board Vote: How to Time Effective Decisions


What I love most about board work may surprise you. Some directors enjoy sharing their expertise. Others crave the learning opportunities in new fields. And let’s face it — many enjoy the status of the rubbing shoulders with the business elite.

For me, I love collaborating when no one is in charge. I love the creativity and discovery that arises from controlled chaos. And I love feeling a group’s momentum shift from confusion to clarity.

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The Digital Director: How to Support Tech-Savvy Recruits

digital director

As technology leaders take their place in corporate boardrooms, many in the governance community are celebrating. Clara Shih becoming a Starbucks director and Michele Romanow joining the board of Whistler Blackcomb are two such examples making news. And we are right to applaud these directors, and others like them, who bring valuable expertise in what is often their first board role.

If a “digital director” is going to enjoy lasting success, however, we need to do more than pat her on the back. The real work of facilitating a director’s contribution continues for years beyond the press release.

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Teamwork: 3 Ways to Boost Collaboration on Boards


I’m heading into a doozy of a work week. Five straight days of board meetings, preceded by 400 pages of pre-reading, await me. The only break I’ll enjoy is the 5-hour flight between meeting locations and the mental haze imposed by a new time zone. This probably doesn’t sound so bad to most, especially those who…

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