Assessing the Board

Saturday, December 1, 2007
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In their book, Leadership Brand: Developing Customer-Focused Leaders to Drive Performance and Build Lasting Value (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), Dave Ulrich and Norm Smallwood note that it's important for board members to have a "commitment to learning, integrity and passion." 

What's more, they write, board members need to embody the firm's brand, much like other C-level leaders. "If the company espouses a firm brand focused on efficiency and reliability, the board should focus its attention on similar issues," they write.

In assessing the performance of the board, the authors suggest companies ask the following questions:

* Does your board foster your leadership brand?

* Does the board spend time on the right issues?

* Does the board make decisions in a timely way?

* Do members of the board reflect the desired brand?

* Is there a mix on the board to get different points of view?

* How well does the board deal with dissent?

* How well does the board counsel the CEO and senior leaders?

* How well does the board perform the technical duties it must perform (such as ensuring fiscal accountability and setting compensation)?

* How well does the agenda of the board meeting reflect what customers and investors would want to see?

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* How well does the board know industry trends and competitor analysis and provide honest views of how the firm is doing?

* How well does the board deal with fundamental value issues?

* How much oversight does the board give on creating the next generation of leadership?

* How thorough and regular are the board's reviews of the CEO?

* How well does the board build compensation policies that communicate and support the brand?

* How well does the board audit organization capabilities?

* How well does the board hold people accountable for decisions?

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