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10 things you should examine before joining a board

by Stephen Conmy

credit for this article goes to Corporate Governance Institute

Before joining a board you need to ask many questions and carry out proper due diligence. Boards are increasingly recognised for their role in driving performance and ensuring regulatory compliance. CEOs and chairs have made more significant efforts to screen potential new directors before bringing them on board in recent years.

However, before joining a board, you need to do your homework. Is the board you are about to join the right one for you? Will you be safe from a legal perspective? What’s the culture of the board like? Will you enjoy the work? Can you contribute effectively? What is expected of you as a director?


Here are ten questions to ask before joining a board:

1: The most important question to ask is, ‘Who else is in the boardroom?’ Can they handle the work, are they able to keep your trust, and are they dedicated to making their board work a priority? Do the chief executive and chair demonstrate solid and effective leadership, and is their relationship positive? What is the culture like?

2: How will you be inducted into your board role? Has the board been trained and developed regularly? Has the board been reviewed recently? A good board has an annual governance action plan that ensures that it leads by example as it drives for excellence.

3: Has the board defined the culture and behaviours that should guide the organisation at all levels? Does the boardroom culture reflect those values?

4: Is the board’s work captivating to you? In times of adversity, you must be fully committed to getting through the rough patch and building new triumphs with the board. Don’t waste your time on work you don’t enjoy.

5: What kind of time commitment is expected of you? How many days will the work require? Will you be reimbursed for the number of days you work?

6: Are there specific inputs the board wants from you in addition to the generic requests of all members? Your skills and experience must be put to good use when joining a board because most directors join our boards because they want to make a difference.

7: Does the organisation have a shared vision of the organisation’s future and an effective strategy to achieve it?

8: What is the board’s risk appetite, which may differ depending on the part of the business, and what are the top five strategic risks?

9: Has a transparent delegation system been established, including matters reserved for the board?

10: How clear is the information about the health of an organisation – its finances, relationships with stakeholders on both inside and outside the organisation and what does that data tell you?


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