Being an effective board member serves the company, the board and oneself. Here are the first two recommendations I suggest that will help in the cause:
- “Yes” man – Being agreeable is a basic appropriate approach in life, but in a minute you’ll lose your value in a boardroom at the point at which you’re seen as a “Yes” man or woman. In a balanced boardroom with astute leadership, always cheering on the leader is seen as a condescension to politics and personal favor. Some board members will admit to this approach for personal gain. Your personal gain doesn’t increase your value in the room.
- “No” man – Being disagreeable is as precarious as always being agreeable. There is an underlying reality in boardrooms that many don’t see. That is a default perspective that brings out the negative. You want to justify your place on the board. How can you be recognized or heard? A negative voice will do just that. Even the newest and lowest member of a board can get the attention of the chair person with a well placed caution. The problem with this approach is that it casts decision making in a negative shadow and often makes the direction reactive rather than proactive. The chair may need to become overly defensive if the subject matter has their favor. Mind you, a decision can be served by an appropriate negative as well as a positive. Just make sure you’re not solely in one camp or the other.
There are amazing ways in which board membership will be a constructive experience. Make the best of your situation with thoughtful participation. I’m sure you can do it.