The Pre-Meeting Package

The purpose of the board’s pre-meeting package is to equip the board members to maximize the effectiveness of limited full board meeting time. Therefore, the contents of a helpful pre-meeting package depend on the nature of the agenda items. Most agenda items fall into one of four categories: monitoring, information sharing, decision-making, and relationship building.
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Excellence in Decision Making

Boards are responsible for directing the future of their organizations and holding the CEO accountable to achieve the organization’s goals. Therefore, organizational excellence hinges on quality board decision-making! Determining the best decision can be challenging when at least the majority of members of a diverse group must come to agreement.
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Selecting a Good Fit: Senior Executives

Recent discussions with organizations that are currently hiring a new CEO or Executive Director brought to my mind lessons that I have gleaned over the past few years. There are some very beneficial hiring best practices that not all boards follow. These include things to do before interviewing candidates, during the screening and selection process, and in the first few weeks of employment.
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Selecting a Good Fit: Board Members

Board excellence starts with board members who fit the organization. A quality screening process for board nominees generally leads to selection of good-fit individuals and, thus, elevates the success of the board and the whole organization. In their book, “Boardroom Confidence,” Bobb Biehl and Ted Engstrom say that careful fit assessment is very important because one misfit board member can cause grief for his full term. They suggest that “the best time to ask a board member to resign is when you don’t select him for membership.”
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Governance Requires Engagement

The recent article “Corporate Constitutions” in The Economist points out that compliance with governance parameters is not enough to ensure quality board leadership and organizational performance. The article suggests that current wisdom such as the separation of board and executive functions, the majority of directors being outside directors, and following Sarbanes-Oxley requirements is not enough. I suggest that these “smart” parameters are necessary, but not sufficient, for governance excellence. As Pat Lencioni emphasizes, team “health” is also an essential ingredient for success. Effective governance requires meaningful and collegial engagement of the board members, not just compliance with structural parameters.
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