The Savvy Director Blog

Welcome to The Savvy Director™ blog, a place to engage on board governance topics as you travel the path to being a savvy director. 

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"You may be right, but do you want to be invited back?"


The question posed above by my finance professor in business school may be one of the most impactful lessons of my university education. Not sure why, except maybe to suggest that his question really hit home.

The question was pretty much a side comment to the discussion that was underway at the time and I’m not sure it resonated with others in my MBA class. But it did resonate for me. I was not even into boards yet, so, it wasn’t about that. Nonetheless it’s a powerful question I’ve brought forward more than a few times over the years.

One time a few years ago I was having lunch with a fellow director and talking about a rather difficult task we were facing with a board. After much analysis and deliberation, I knew I had gotten to the root cause of what was ailing the Board/CEO relationship. My colleague asked, “Do you think they’ll invite you back?” There was that question again …

So, what was it about? Didn’t people want to...

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"The board package just arrived. And it looks BIG."


You’ve heard the old saying, “If you want to get something done, ask a busy person.” Busy people who get things done – not people who make themselves busy working on their procrastination habits. (Been there!)

Busy, productive people have a way to cut through the clutter and get to the heart of the matter. Don’t be surprised if you happen to notice those same skills in the savvy directors on your board. Not to worry … you are not be that far from being there too.

Today’s blog post is all about what to do when the board package arrives ahead of the upcoming meeting. Ideally, it would arrive at least a week in advance, giving you plenty of time to review it. But don’t count on it. Life happens. The board itself is ultimately accountable for the quality of the information it receives, but responsibility for putting the package together rests with management.

And management takes its direction from the board. If you, as a board director,...

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"I've been asked to sit on a board. Now what?"

“Is this something I want to do?” “Is it time for me to start thinking about serving on boards at this point in my career?” “Am I already over committed and on too many boards?” “Would I agree to serve on this board just to make some money? Oh, it’s a volunteer position – I’ve done my share of those.” Maybe you can relate to this dilemma. I know I can.

What would the savvy director do?

I’m pretty sure a savvy director would have a baseline list of questions at the ready to determine if this opportunity was a good fit for their director skills, capacity and overall interest - or a better fit for someone else. They would have seen this movie before. They would recall getting involved with a board without doing their homework first, and then finding themselves eagerly waiting for their first term to expire.

On the other hand, if you’re a savvy director in-waiting - an up-and-coming director who realizes you...

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Why The Savvy Director?

Some of you know this story … my first board meeting fifteen years ago was a disaster – a horrific experience really. I had been asked to represent the regional chapter of my professional association on the national board. Then, while I was flying to Toronto to attend my first meeting, my local group sent a letter to the chair of the national board demanding that the CEO be replaced, without me knowing about it.

How do you think that went over with my new board?

What kind of welcome mat do you think they rolled out for this new director? I got killed.

Not only was this my first meeting with the national board – it was my first board meeting ever! As you can imagine, there is more to the story and we can save that for another day. For now, let’s just say my chapter had vocalized the ‘elephant in the room’ by writing that letter – the organization had been hemorrhaging membership for many years – but the execution was deeply flawed,...

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