The first step in having a great board of directors is to carefully and deliberately build the board over time. You're never going to have an awesome board without having amazing board members. Your board can be just as important to you as your executive team and you should spend just as much time and energy building one as the other. I've had about a dozen board members over the years, some better than others.


My top five characteristics of a great director are similar to my top five characteristics of a great executive (except for the last one):

  1. They are prepared and keep commitments. They show up to all meetings. They show up on time and don't leave early. They do their homework. They are fully present and don't email during meetings.
  2. They speak their minds. They have no fear of bringing up an uncomfortable topic during a meeting, even if it impacts someone in the room. They do not come up to you after a meeting and tell you what they really think. I had a board member once tell my entire management team that he thought I needed to be better at firing executives more quickly!
  3. They build independent relationships. They get to know each other and see each other outside of your meetings. They get to know individuals on your management team and talk to them on occasion as well. None of this communication goes through you.
  4. They are resource rich. I've had some directors who are one-trick or two-trick ponies ...

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