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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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Governance in the News - Again

Several months ago, I posted a Savvy Director blog about two governance stories in the news (Governance in the News.)
 
 I said then – and I haven’t changed my mind – whenever you see the words ‘governance’ or ‘board of directors’ in a headline, it’s not going to make for a heartwarming read.
 
“Governance stories in the news tend to focus on conflict, crisis, and failure – shedding light on goings-on and...
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So You Want To Be The Board Chair

Our last couple of blog posts have dealt with board succession planning (A Better Way to Fill Board Seats) and director recruitment (The Right Director for Your Board.)
 
But a good board succession plan isn’t just about filling board vacancies. It’s also about finding board leaders, like the next board chair.
 
So, in today’s Savvy Director post, we’re going to zero in on the position of board chair. We’re going to try to answer the questions ...
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The Right Director for Your Board

Last week’s blog dealt with board succession. If you read that post (A Better Way to Fill Board Seats), then you know I’m an advocate of treating board succession as an ongoing process of planned renewal.

Maybe you also noticed that we glossed over the whole topic of actually selecting the right director for your board – a process that is complicated enough to merit its own separate blog post.

So, let’s delve into the topic of board recruitment now.

 

Pinpointing...

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A Better Way to Fill Board Seats

Does this sound familiar?

A long-standing, knowledgeable and well-respected director will soon be stepping off your board. This will create a vacant board seat.

Once the board becomes aware of this impending departure, a board committee is tasked with finding a good candidate to fill the seat. The committee scrambles to interview a few candidates and recommend one of them to the board.

The board rubber stamps the committee recommendation and – bingo! – there’s a new board...

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Board vs. CEO

In last week’s Savvy Director post, I wrote about healthy tension among board members, and the need to prevent it from deteriorating into disruptive conflicts, or resolving the conflicts quickly if they do arise.

But there’s a certain kind of conflict that arises in the boardroom that I didn’t address – one that requires finesse and sensitivity to manage. I’m referring to conflict between the CEO (often called the Executive Director in the non-profit world) and...

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"It's not just what you ask, but how you ask it."

ask great questions Sep 25, 2021

Ever heard that one before? 

Thankfully it happens much less these days.  But it took an experienced director to pull me aside after a board meeting one time to help see the light. 

Body language, tone of voice, choosing your words with care, and simply waiting for the right time to jump into the discussion have all made a huge difference in my ability to have influence over others in the boardroom.  But not every time.  I still manage to mess up when I’m not...

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Preparing for a Board Interview

The board interview – it’s a key step in assessing the fit between a board of directors and a potential new board member. But for both parties – the board and the candidate - it’s so much more than that.

Last week The Savvy Director blog focused on the ‘fit’ – or lack thereof – between a board and potential new directors. We advised using behavioral questions to uncover candidates’ fit with the board. And we provided some questions for...

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"Oh no! I have a conflict of interest."

demonstrate courage Sep 11, 2021

Relax!  Having a conflict of interest with respect to something on the board’s agenda need not interfere with your ability to function as a high quality board director.  It’s okay to have them.  It doesn’t make you a bad person or ineffective board member.  The real issue is whether your board has a good process/policy/practice to manage and mitigate any actual or potential conflicts.

What is a Conflict of Interest? 

Let’s get the definition...

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Keeping the train on track

prepare for meetings Sep 04, 2021

Someone on LinkedIn said, “Good governance is like keeping the train on track.” I like that analogy as it runs parallel to the description of the CEO who ‘keeps the trains running on time.’

You need both good direction and good execution.

You also need the third phase of the board’s work – monitoring progress.

It may have been John and Miriam Carver who described the work of the board as:

  1. Setting direction,
  2. Delegating authority, and
  3. Monitoring progress.
  4. ...
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Banish Groupthink from the Boardroom

think independently Aug 29, 2021

You’ve read the material. You’ve seen the presentation. You’ve listened to management’s request. Now it’s time for the board to make a decision. It’s an important decision, too. You’re expecting a robust discussion.

But the room is quiet. Maybe a couple of directors ask a question or two, just for clarification. Now it looks like the board chair is about to call for a vote.

What’s going on? Groupthink, that’s what. Your board has fallen...

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