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Characteristics of a Great Board Member

  • 25th Jul'22

One of the things I love about my work is the frequent interactions with young aspiring individuals. Their inquisitive and curious minds give me hope that the future is in safe hands. It's amazing to know how so many young people want to start on their own. Some wish to launch their startup, some wish to become a marketer, and then some dream to become a board member without understanding the responsibilities of board members.

Upon one such recent interaction, I came across a few young people There one of the young women  had asked me, "How can I become a great board member?" For a moment, I was taken aback by the brevity of the question. I provided her with an answer on the spot. However, the question lingered as if I had something more to offer.

Indeed, I had more to offer. However, I'm blessed with the medium to share my knowledge and experiences to help those just starting out in their careers who look up to me.

So, I bring today my experience, knowledge, and wisdom on how to become a great board member. More importantly, I should say, "What are the characteristics of a great board member?"


Effective Characteristics of a Great Board Member

Any board expects its board members to have in-depth knowledge about the organization. Other than that, they want the board member to have the curiosity and the passion to drive the organization towards more success. More importantly, they look for board members to bring something unique and brilliant to the table. Furthermore, they help you to make a boardroom diverse which is extremely important.

With such expectations, it's obvious that to become a board member you will need to have some exceptional qualities or like I mentioned before, characteristics.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is one of the leading characteristics of a great board member. You can even say that it is potentially more important than intellectual intelligence (IQ) today. Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to monitor emotions. It can monitor both your and other people's emotions. It allows the ability to distinguish between different emotions and work with them appropriately. Furthermore, you can use emotional information to guide your thinking and behavior. Overall mastering emotional intelligence can help you know yourself. Thus, how can you better connect with others and handle stressful situations while making better decisions?



People often don't realize how time-consuming a meeting can become. Especially, when your presence barely mattered in it. However, still, as a board member, you have to join such meetings. It is due to the ability to commit. Commitment is another important characteristic of a great board member. As a board member, it's not about showing up for meetings every once a month. You have to keep track of things like committee meetings, required training, strategy, and planning events. 

You may also have to attend fundraising events, build networks, and act as ambassadors for the organization. You must even work on developing lasting relationships, not just with your fellow board members, but also with stakeholders, investors, and the management team. And all of it is only possible if you commit to your role as a board member.



Equanimity is not a much known characteristic. However, it is an extremely powerful and effective personality trait. It refers to the ability to remain calm, composed, and collected even in stressful or difficult situations. To have equanimity is a beneficial trait in the boardroom in situations of heightened tense discussions. Furthermore, staying calm in the boardroom will go a long way. When you stay calm while everyone else loses theirs will allow you to stand out in the board meetings.

Listen to your colleagues, even in the most heated of discussions. Use emotional intelligence to navigate through unruly situations. Try to listen more and think through it before you say anything in response.


Ability to Prepare

As a board member, you must always be  prepared. Take, for example, if you walk into a board meeting without knowing what to expect, you'll never look your best. Hence, whether it's your first board meeting or your twentieth you must go into a board meeting prepared. It can help you become the most influential on the board. Thus, you may even achieve your desired position in the boardroom.

Now to have yourself properly prepared, read all documents before the meeting. It will ensure you completely understand everything that is about to get discussed. In case you don't understand something, ask about it first. It is important that you approach beforehand. It shows how much you value the meeting.


Stay Open Minded

Effective board members are always diverse and respectful. Diversity is not effective when dealing with conflict and aggression from members who have opposing ideas. Therefore, it is important to stay open minded to diversity in the opinion of board members. Also, do not shy away from admitting when your mind changes. Everyone is susceptible to mistakes. While it can often become difficult to put aside one's personal opinions on various topics, a successful board member will keep themselves open to new ideas and allow their opinions to get challenged.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds achieve their careers and life aspirations. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

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