Strategic leadership forms the crux of organizational development and success. Just as the driving force of a car is its engine, so too is a high-performing board the engine of an organization, guiding strategic decisions and growth.
The assembly of a board requires careful selection of individuals, each possessing diverse expertise and perspectives that complement one another, fostering a rich ecosystem of leadership. This is where the concept of board recruitment becomes essential.
“Bringing on a board member who comes from that industry and can bring in-specific experience is a value add to any organization,” says Scott Bellinger, BluWave’s co-head of research and operations. “They can work closer to the management team and give outside insight of someone who’s been there and done that previously.”
It’s a process that goes beyond filling seats. It’s about attracting the top talent that can steer your business. For organizations looking for professional support in this crucial process, BluWave is ready to connect you with industry-specific resources that can guide your process with expertise and precision.
Defining Your Board Member Needs
The journey toward effective board recruitment begins with understanding your unique needs. An assessment of the specific gaps in your current board composition and identification of skill requirements helps direct the recruitment process.
By aligning the desired attributes and expertise of potential board members with the organization’s strategic goals and challenges, you can ensure the recruited individuals will provide the most value.
When beginning your board recruitment journey, a comprehensive job description serves as your map. By clearly outlining the board’s purpose, responsibilities and expectations, you set the course for attracting qualified board candidates.
A well-crafted job description, complete with the organization’s mission, board member roles, committee involvement and time commitment requirements, helps filter in individuals who align with your needs. To maximize impact, use concise language, focus on essential qualifications and illuminate your organization’s unique value proposition.
Benefits, Responsibilities and Skills
The board position comes with a wealth of benefits, including opportunities for personal and professional growth, networking and the privilege to make a significant impact on an organization. These benefits should be presented upfront to attract motivated individuals.
Board members shoulder several responsibilities, such as fiduciary duty, strategic planning, risk management and providing guidance to the executive team. Ensuring these duties align with your organization’s needs and strategic direction helps attract the right talent.
“They can be a great outside partner to the CEO – and it’s a portco, the PE firm – to ensure everyone is growing in the same direction and on the same page,” Bellinger adds.
Term and General Duties
Board member terms typically have a defined duration, and adopting staggered terms brings a mix of continuity and fresh perspectives into the proceedings. General duties could span from regular attendance at board meetings and active participation in committees to fulfilling fiduciary responsibilities. Clear articulation of these expectations can help potential members better understand their role.
Time, Legal and Financial Commitments
Time commitments for board members can range from regular board and committee meetings to additional engagement requirements. Alongside time, potential board members should be aware of any legal or financial obligations, such as adherence to regulatory compliance, potential liability issues and the expectation of making personal financial contributions or securing sponsorships.
Strategies to Find Potential Board Candidates
Sourcing potential board candidates requires a multifaceted approach. Utilizing board posting programs and matching platforms, such as LinkedIn and Executive Search Firms, can offer access to a pool of qualified board candidates. Local Chambers of Commerce can also serve as valuable resources for finding candidates.
Oftentimes, though, you can save time and resources by connecting with a service provider who already knows exactly who you need and where to find them. The Business Builders’ Network from BluWave is full of exact-fit third parties who know how to do just that.
Word-of-Mouth and Referrals
Existing networks and relationships form a treasure trove of potential board candidates. From board members of other organizations and industry leaders to professional associations and community influencers, your network contacts can be a rich source of referrals. Clearly articulating your organization’s mission and the specific qualifications you seek in potential board candidates can help garner more suitable referrals.
Publicizing Within Network and Local Community
Promoting board opportunities within your network and local community allows you to target individuals already familiar with your organization or industry. Email newsletters, social media platforms, industry events and community-based publications can be effective channels for publicizing these opportunities. A compelling announcement combined with engaging storytelling can pique interest and attract potential board members.
Expanding your search beyond your immediate networks through external promotion can attract diverse candidates. Digital platforms and industry-specific networks can reach individuals with the desired expertise who might not be in your immediate circle. In addition to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can be effective platforms.
Screening and Selecting Board Members
Choosing the right candidate requires a structured process. An efficient application process, including resume, cover letter and reference submission, can facilitate the evaluation of potential board candidates. Initial screenings through phone or video interviews can help narrow the candidate pool. Utilizing behavioral-based interviewing techniques and strategic questions can further help assess the qualifications, values, commitment and potential contributions of board candidates.
Short-listing and Final Selection
The final stage of board recruitment involves short-listing and selecting the ideal candidates. Reviewing candidates based on predefined criteria and qualifications ensures an objective selection process. Thoughtful deliberation among board members, consensus-building, conducting reference checks and considering overall board dynamics can further aid in the selection of the right candidate.
“The main thing is getting someone who’s willing to be an active board member and not just meet once a quarter, but actually help with some value creation plans throughout the period and stay engaged between quarterly meetings,” Bellinger says.
A successful board recruitment strategy is a meticulous process. It doesn’t have to be an uphill task, though. BluWave’s research and operations team can be your ally in this process, connecting you with exact-fit service providers. Connect with us here to start your journey to master board recruitment.