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Proactive Questions Every Board Member Should Ask

  • 28th Apr'22

Many aspire to get appointed as a board of directors and only a few get to live such dreams. You can also become a board of directors provided you put in enough time, dedication, and work in your career. Furthermore, you can always research how to get appointed to a board of directors to make things easier for yourself. However, getting assigned to a board of directors is just the beginning of a highly responsible job that can have severe repercussions if not done well.

The horizon for the board of directors remains pretty wide. A lot depends on the board, from getting a company out of crisis to bringing it down to extensive levels of failure. Board members will always have tough questions to answer, and more importantly, they can't avoid or run from those questions. Every action of a board carries personal reputational consequences.

With all that information shared about the board of directors, here is a difficult but interesting thing I want to share. Board members have nearly total control of their respective companies or organizations. It allows them to conveniently take up any role in the company as they fit or necessary. They can take up management and transformational roles simply by asking the right questions that can create a big and strategic change in a crisis. But here is the thing - such questions require proactive participation, and here are some that every board member should ask.

 

Proactive Questions Every Board Member Should Ask

Here are some thought-provoking questions that you must proactively ask if you are a board member.
 

What Should Be Put on The Agenda You Design?

The leader or the executive often designs the agenda for any campaign or strategy, which gets forwarded to the board for approval. Here is a board member; you must read the documents and ask questions. It makes it easier to fall into the trap of passivity. As a result, you can take up the opportunity to collaboratively design the agenda with the other board members.
 

What Are Things Not Told About?

Board members with massive authority and control in the organization will always have one difficult hill to climb - Providing the leaders and executives a safe space. A safe space is required to convey or talk about any inconveniences that could affect the company's progress. If the executives do not feel secure about their role in the company around you, then there is a high probability of them keeping things from you.

Executives withhold critical information fearing they would get sacked or face the consequences. So, it leads to messed-up dynamics within the workforce, which ultimately causes the company to suffer. Hence, as the board of directors, you must ensure that it never happens. To prevent such unwanted conduct, you should allow the executives to bring up tough situations and questions for discussion. 

When you provide such space, you further can ask your executives if there is anything more they want to share, and most likely, they will share. Furthermore, it strengthens and elevates your position as a board member.
 

How Do External World Changes Not Get Discussed in Board Meetings?

It's easy for the board of directors to focus on the inside. However, it is also  important to have industry specialists on board without the lack of diversity of thought as it can create a homogeneity that leads to myopathies. Therefore, you must put up questions to hire new board members that add variety to it. Also, you can even reach out to guest speakers who can challenge the current methodologies and offer fresh and better perspectives.
 

What are the Concerned Things to Know About the Company?

One difficult question to answer is understanding the things that concern the company and board's welfare. Sometimes you may not know about it, and therefore, it requires time to think and figure them out. It would be best to constantly ask this question as the answer may shed some light on what the boards should be on the agenda.

What has been found in organizations after many big failures or problems is that many people knew about the situation but were scared to speak up. Things on the board's agenda are equally important as what's not on it. As a board member, you must remain aware of accepting a presented agenda and be ready to question whether or not the right points are being discussed.
 

Are the Long-Term Issues Getting Discussed?

The existing world just witnessed a drastic impact of Coronavirus. If not anything, it did show us how the times of crisis or extreme changes, like the pandemic, can often lead to an excessive short-term orientation. Challenges such as organizational development and succession, longer-term competitive and technological threats, and environmental and regulatory issues can get lost in the shuffle and lack of focus. Therefore, you must proactively ask questions regarding both internal and external long-term matters.

 

How to Know and Trust Other Board Members?

If you want the board to come together as a collective group rather than a collection of individuals, you must learn to trust each other. A lack of trust and understanding can often lead to frequent dysfunctional conflicts or people not feeling heard and, thus, unable to make the desired contributions. Hence, it has become increasingly important that when different bodies work towards a common goal, they must know each other well enough to have trust.
 

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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