Xavier's top 10 tips for spotting good (and bad) board directors
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Xavier's top 10 tips for spotting good (and bad) board directors

The Manual

Top 10 insights to inspire board members to keep improving.

1
Good Director
knows they only have two jobs:
1. Hire and compensate the right CEO.
2. Approve the budget and strategic plan.

2
Good Director
knows that things always go wrong. They make it safe to share bad news and simply ask: “So what are we doing about it and how can I help?”

3
Good Director
hits a home run once or twice a year. Typically a recruit, strategic partnership, new investor, etc. They are always looking for opportunities to help.


4
Good Director
trusts the CEO completely until they don’t. Once they don’t, it is time to make a change. There’s no in between.


5
Good Director
has extremely high standards for board meetings and communicates them clearly. That means clear presentation, timely financials/KPIs, focus on strategy not reading materials out loud.


6
Good Director
never undermines the CEO in front of their team. Any difference of opinion is resolved privately and with ultimate deference to the CEO.



7
Good Director
will request the materials 48 hours or more in advance and will have read them. They will say “We have all read the materials, so let’s dive right into the most important things.”


8
Good Director
will recognize when they are too busy to be useful/engaged and step aside, ideally recommending someone with the time and energy.


9
Good Director
knows that management can only focus on 1-2 things at once.


10
Good Director
always remembers that they are a fiduciary of all shareholders.



Bad Director
thinks their main job is to provide good ideas. They think the board’s job is to micro-manage the CEO.


Bad Director
loses their temper and berates management when they get bad news. They incentivize management to hide bad news.



Bad Director
just shows up for the meetings and otherwise doesn’t think much about the company.



Bad Director
constantly tests and scrutinizes the CEO, making them feel insecure in their role and always on the brink of being fired.




Bad Director
takes whatever management gives them as “normal”.





Bad Director
will be unaware of who is on the email thread or in the room and will be “fast and loose” with their words.



Bad Director
will show up having read nothing and expect management to read aloud.




Bad Director
will be unwilling to give up the power no matter what.




Bad Director
forwards an article they read with the subject line: “Why Aren’t We Doing THIS?!?!”



Bad Director
looks at every decision as: “What is in it for my firm/pocketbook?”



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