top of page
  • Writer's pictureChristine King

Helpful Advice for New Board Members

In my last post, I gave you some tips on landing a board position. But that's just the start. Once you're in, the real work begins - you've got to learn how to be a good board member. This role is a big deal because you'll guide the whole organization and have an impact on everyone involved, from employees to shareholders. I'm here to offer advice for new board members that I wish I had in my early days.  

Helpful Advice for New Board Members

Helpful advice for new board members 

I’ve had experience working with boards (check out my forthcoming book, Breaking Through the Silicon Ceiling) and working on boards, so here are some tips for new board members to help you step into your new role confidently and make a real difference: 

Shift your gears from doer to advisor 

Throughout your career, you've probably grown accustomed to being in the trenches, leading the charge and making things happen. But stepping into a director's shoes means embracing a new role - that of an advisor. It's a significant shift, moving from being the one who executes to the one who guides. 

As a director, your job is to steer the company and its leaders toward the right decisions, not to make those decisions yourself. Think of it as the ultimate way to delegate. You need to ponder the company's strategic and tactical direction and ask questions that inspire the management to see and pursue the correct path. Coaching the CEO is also part of the gig. It's about balancing rigorous oversight to ensure high performance, with being a source of motivation, encouraging the executive team to excel with enthusiasm.

Focus on being a champion for shareholders, not management

Remember, to be a good board member, you must be in the shareholders' corner, not the management team's. Your top duty is to represent their interests. Touching base with shareholders can be valuable, giving you a fresh perspective as you help chart the company's future. Remember, however, that shareholder requests aren't always what’s best for the long-term, and your job is to steer the company toward creating lasting value for them. 

Your focus as a board member should be mergers and acquisitions (M&A), which I believe is the best use of the board’s time, execution, compensation practices, financial discipline and prudence, and overall governance. If you get these things right, you will help the company generate great financial results, which will make your shareholders happy. Happy shareholders usually mean you're on the right track.

Be prepared to work hard

Being on a board might not seem time-consuming at first glance, but there are definitely moments when it ramps up. You'll attend quarterly meetings, which need some prep to be truly effective. Sometimes, situations like M&A demand more time. Deciding whether to buy or sell a company is no small task; you'll need to be thoroughly involved. 

Reaching out to shareholders is another area where you'll invest time, but it's crucial for maintaining trust and transparency. The most intense periods often come when considering leadership changes. These decisions are vital for the company's success, and getting them wrong can lead to severe setbacks. Searching for a new CEO or another key executive is a demanding process. And if you're ever asked to step into a leadership role, either temporarily or permanently, prepare for it to take up a significant chunk of your time. Take it from me—it's a big commitment, but one that can lead you to great contentment on the journey. 

You can preorder individual copies of Breaking Through the Silicon Ceiling on Amazon. If you'd like to bulk order for your group, team, or organization, click here.

74 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page