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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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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