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How to Make your Board Effective

*Reviewed 27th August 2021*

Take it or leave it, a company is as strong as its Board. Entrepreneurs should therefore not just spend quality time to ensure that they attract the right people that would midwife their company’s vision. Rather, they must also ensure that those right people are strategically managed for optimum results. Some of the critical questions that I ask during strategic sessions with entrepreneurs are “who are the board members?” “How does the board operate?” “What is the synergy between the company and the board?” Interestingly, I sometimes get a response like “well, our board members are busy people so we don’t often see them” or “our board members are too busy to advise!” and I simply usually think aloud that such board members should be sacked!

However, the recurrent feedback of entrepreneurs about their board has made me review my stand. Now, I think more that the problem is not with the board members but with the entrepreneur’s ignorance in making the best use of their board. Our article on GOOD CORPORATE GOVERANCE FOR SMEs

elucidates on the importance of a good management team for the profitability of business venture.

My intention is therefore to proffer bullet points on how to make your board effective and efficient.

  • No matter how effective the board is, time may not usually allow the directors to delve critically into every aspect of the company’s business. The solution is to prioritise deliberations and then delegate some subjects to the executive managers or some other suitable top shots within the company. In doing this, it is important for you to bear in mind that some matters are (by law) meant to be determined by the board and some are essential because they affect the very core of the company.
Summary 1: Do not wear out your board members
  • Can a director be said to be involved in and responsible for the management of a company if the director is never available for board meetings and does not, therefore, get involved in brainstorming sessions and joint deliberations of the board? The obvious answer is NO and that is why I easily tell entrepreneurs to discard a board member that is not ready to be active. If it is crucial that such a person continues to be involved, you can make him/her a member of the board of advisors.
Summary: Sack a board member that is never available. No “arse-licking” please. 
  • Send meeting agenda ahead of the meeting date, it helps board members to plan and prepare ahead.
  •  Send your business report together with the agenda. It helps your board to know where the company needs help.
  • Make use of committees for the strategic affairs of the company. The committees would particularly be essential for matters that need research, collation of data/records, etc.

Finally, I am tempted to openly ask the same question that I ask during my strategy sessions… Who are your board members? Family and friends or… seasoned professionals? Let me know your thoughts and views generally.