Cognitive Load: 4 Ways to Resist Distraction and Boost Focus

cognitive load

While reading the title of this blog post, can you count to ten by twos and hum your favourite song? Individually, these tasks are easy to perform. Taken together, however, things get tricky. Unfortunately, the human brain isn’t capable of multitasking. Each successive task we layer on our working memory increases our cognitive load. Originally described…

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Term Limits: Are They Really The Best Boards Can Do?

term limits

We tend to trust an experienced surgeon with 2,000 procedures behind her. We appreciate a beloved teacher as he approaches retirement. A certain restaurant chain even boasts the number of customers served. Yet, long-standing corporate directors are viewed increasingly with suspicion. Several countries have mandated firm term limits — 12 years in France — or disclosure regarding…

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Creating Board Opportunities: Are You Young, Scrappy and Hungry?

board opportunities

I’ve always been a theatre geek. When other children were playing sports, my friends and I would stage scenes from West Side Story. I greeted sunny days with “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” sung at full volume. And I had an informed perspective on whether Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn was the better Eliza Doolittle.…

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Preparation: How to Set Up for a Successful Board Meeting


When I first reported to a board, management delivered the pre-reading material to directors with a loud thunk. There were no iPads in the boardroom back then. We kicked it old school with thick binders and countless dead trees. Today, I receive my required reading via email or online portals. Technology hasn’t changed my first step, however, as…

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The Learning Curve: 5 Ways to Find Your Feet as a New Director

new director

It’s tough being the new kid on the first day of school. You don’t know the inside jokes and you don’t know where to sit at lunch. Fast forward forty years and it’s the same for a new director. Your colleagues exchange stories from summer vacations and pass notes at the back of the room.…

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The Vice Chair Role: How to Write Your Own Job Description

vice chair

I currently serve as vice chair of a board. It’s a gig I love, perhaps more than I ever expected. In truth, my expectations were pretty vague on my first day on the role. Most boards define the position in terms of what it isn’t, rather than what it should be. Not quite the chair,…

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CEO Succession: 4 Questions to Assess Your Board’s Readiness

ceo succession

According to a recent PwC survey, only 27% of boards are confident that the company has adequate bench strength in its CEO talent pipeline. In response, you might think CEO succession would be at the top of every board agenda. Yet, less than half of these directors feel they are spending sufficient time on the…

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Gender Diversity: 4 Ways Individual Directors Can Act Now

gender diversity

Researchers note stronger-than-average performance at companies with three or more female board directors. Countless organizations seek to encourage gender diversity in the boardroom (here, here, here and here, for example). Yet, women’s representation on boards remains in the low double digits in Canada, the US and beyond.

I’ve always been aware of gender imbalance in my workplaces, but I didn’t feel positioned to fight it. The challenge in the boardroom is even more daunting. If the Ontario Securities Commission couldn’t fix this, then how would I possibly make a difference? It always felt easier for me to get back to work and do my job.

Over the past year, however, I have experimented with tactical ways that I can contribute to the gender diversity cause. You might do the same in ways that require more thoughtful intention than hard effort, particularly in the following four areas.

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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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