Characteristics of the Best Board Members

By Brent Peinhardt

Last week we talked about how to have the most engaged board members. But before you can engage your members, you need to find them, and we all want the absolute best board members out there. What qualities make up the “best board member”?
They are:

  • Engaged
  • Competent/experienced
  • Passionate
  • Deeply knowledgeable in industry(ies) or subject matter(s)
  • Excellent communicators
  • Objective/independent
  • Tactful/empathetic

These are all important qualities for a board member to have, but it can be a challenge to find those who meet all of the criteria. Networking is critical, but it’s important to network in the right places. Networking with existing board members is a great place to start. Company CEOs, university presidents and deans, economic development leaders and recruiters are other good sources that could lead to the best board members.

Oftentimes, people start looking for board members among the circle of friends and acquaintances they are already familiar with. But this isn’t always the best place to start, because the people you know may not be the most qualified.  Also keep in mind that placing friends on your board is less likely to result in honest feedback, and it can be more difficult to remove people from the board when change is needed.

Once you’ve found the most effective board members, they shouldn’t need to be convinced to join the board. If they are the best board member for you, they will be eager to serve when they learn of an opportunity that fits their interests and abilities.

The best board members learn at least as much as they teach or mentor in every meeting. They do not serve for money, position, recognition or ego.  They serve because they love to make a meaningful contribution to a successful enterprise that is worthwhile, exciting and rewarding intellectually.

Posted in Board Membership.