How to Be an Effective Board Member with Chet Harding

The success of your board will always be dependent on the quality of your board members, therefore choosing an effective board is critical to your organization’s success. Excellent board members understand how to collaborate and communicate with colleagues to move their organization towards a common goal.

Entrepreneur and branding/leadership consultant Chet Harding provides his insight on becoming an effective board member in order to maximize your contributions.

1. Prepare for Every Meeting

In order to contribute your best efforts to any board meeting, it is key to arrive prepared.

The first step in preparation is to review and understand all the materials to be discussed so that you are ready to actively engage in all meetings. Many board members don’t take the time to process the material prior to a board meeting and thus waste time during the meeting itself. Time wasting arises either by asking questions they should already know the answer to or by lacking the knowledge to provide genuine and effective collaboration.

According to Chet Harding, you should also take time to prepare meaningful questions, objections, and solutions, prior to any board meeting. Preparing questions and solutions will ignite conversation and show your fellow board members that you have taken the necessary time to fully understand the meeting agenda.

Last but not least, kickstart communication with other board members via phone or email. This will help you understand what is on their mind and help you build stronger relationships, which is crucial when tackling difficult decisions.

2. Be Fully Present in Meetings

Attending a meeting and being fully present are not synonymous. Chet Harding states that for starters, you must put your phone (and any other electronics) away during the entirety of the meeting to avoid distraction and temptation.

Additionally, encourage other board members to do the same, an easy way to do this is by announcing you are moving your electronics. A team that erases all distractions will accomplish much more meaningful work than a team that is constantly distracted by the emails and notifications on their phones.

Even without electronics, however, you need to work hard at staying focused. Don’t daydream, even if you believe the current discussion is not as important to you. Your role as a board member is to listen, questions, and debate certain points if necessary.

3. Don’t Micromanage

It’s easy to get distracted by non-essential items, especially if you are the type of board member who tends to micromanage. Your role as a board member is not to be a functional manager — rather, it’s to stay out of the specific business problems and provide an outside view to help management.

If you feel like you must address a certain problem more specifically, take some time after the meeting to discuss with management. Don’t weigh down a board meeting with these issues.

4. Build Relationships With Board Members and Other Key Influencers

Chet Harding stresses the importance of building relationships with not only your fellow board members but also with the stakeholders and key investors. This will help you sync up with all stakeholders of your organization and become more effective, in and out of board meetings.

Concluding Thoughts

If you remember not to micromanage the meeting, to prepare for your meetings, be present during all meetings, and to build meaningful relationships with fellow board members, you will be an excellent board member. According to Chet Harding, most of the value of a board committee comes outside of board meetings — as a board member, you must understand this to make the most of the process and become a valuable member of your organization.