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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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Give Better Advice

ask great questions Feb 05, 2023


There are times when your CEO or Executive Director may approach the board with a specific request for direction on what to do about a high-risk situation.

When time is of the essence, a director’s view may be required immediately for input to the board’s discussion so that a consensus can be reached quickly, and direction given. Or your CEO may be looking for validation of their pending decision. In that case, your job is to act as a sounding board to help ensure nothing...

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Trust But Clarify

ask great questions Dec 11, 2022

Many of the problems that boards are faced with involve decision making under uncertainty. Rarely do we have the kind of perfect information that would allow us to predict with complete confidence what the outcome of our decision will be. Most of the time, it’s impossible to know that the facts we’re relying on are 100% certain.

To help decision makers reduce the uncertainty of the information at hand, business schools teach graduate courses on assigning probabilities to decision...

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Asking Follow-Up Questions

ask great questions Jul 10, 2022

A week or so before a board meeting, savvy directors start their PREP work to make sure they’ll be ready to take an active part in the meeting and add real value to the board’s discussions. Part of their PREP work is compiling a list of potential questions to ask – the kind of great questions that get to the heart of issues and help the board move forward.

The management team is probably thinking about questions too. What questions might they have for board members that...

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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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Curiosity Makes the Director

ask great questions Jul 11, 2021

I often close my email messages with the words ‘Stay Curious.’

For me, it’s more than just a closing line like ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Yours truly.’ I mean it as a reminder to the reader – and to myself for that matter – to intentionally focus on always bringing a lively state of curiosity to the board table.

I firmly believe that curiosity is one of the attributes that separates a ho-hum board director from a Savvy Director.

And I’m not...

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Six Super Questions for Directors

ask great questions May 02, 2021

At DirectorPrep, we’re obsessed with questions. Asking clear, compelling questions is often the best way that we, as directors, can make a significant contribution to discussions and influence board decisions.

We use questions to clarify information, launch and build on meaningful discussions, encourage dialogue, and challenge assumptions. Without questions, how would we explore fresh ideas, analyze problems, and generate solutions?

The concept is simple - better questions kick start...

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Larry in the Boardroom

ask great questions Jan 31, 2021

Image from Breakfast with Larry

Have you ever wondered what the late talk show host Larry King would have been like as a board director?

Let’s say the board was questioning the CEO, and that Larry had actually prepped for the board meeting. What kind of questions would he have asked?

Given that one of Larry’s favorite questions for authors was “Why the book?”, I imagine that his fellow directors might have heard him ask the CEO questions like:

  • “What happened...
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The Power of Catalytic Questions

ask great questions Jan 17, 2021

If you’ve been reading The Savvy Director blog for a while, then you know that, at DirectorPrep, we are obsessed with questions.

One reason for that is because asking questions helps us to fulfill our fiduciary duty as board directors. Through our questions, we inform ourselves about the subject matter at hand and satisfy ourselves about what is in the organization’s best interests.

Of equal importance, the right questions – asked in the right way at the right time –...

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