So You Want to Be an Effective Director?

by TK Kerstetter for The Board Blog, October 6th, 2010.

I am writing this the day before I preside over the orientation of more than 160 Fortune 500 board committee chairmen just before they are shepherded into groups to participate in Corporate Board Member’s Board Committee Peer Exchange. It is quite a sight to behold as eager board members march off to one of 20+ makeshift “boardrooms” consisting of eight to ten audit, compensation, and nominating/governance chairs of similarly sized companies. It makes me proud that eight years ago, with the help of some great companies and expert governance advisors, we launched what is today considered the finest learning format for board education available—a claim I doubt other educational providers would object to, since many have taken this format, tweaked it, and incorporated it into their own conference agendas. And while I’m not saying Corporate Board Member invented peer exchanges, we have certainly popularized the format within the board education arena, with results that have been next to amazing.

I often get questions from board members asking “What is the best event I as a director or my board could attend, both from the standpoint of content and price?” In same vein as our Annual Boardroom Summit, which follows the Board Committee Peer Exchange, there are other providers that provide quality board educational experiences. Stanford’s Director’s College comes to mind, as well as NACD and a host of other university programs. But what has always made the Board Committee Peer Exchange unique is that the board chairs set the agenda for the discussions in their session. We have found no better vehicle to meet the needs of educating directors than matching them with a group of their committee and chair peers and then to let them talk about the challenges and solutions related to performing their fiduciary duties. The peer groups have one director who serves in the facilitator’s role and the only other person in the room is an advisor whose role is to answer technical or legal questions. Having orchestrated this event for going on eight years, it comes as no surprise that when I’m asked what is the best event in which a director can improve his or her performance and effectiveness, I offer peer exchanges as the No. 1 option.

Now for those of you that are worried that you are not a committee chair or if you sit on multiple committees, we have not forgotten about you. Corporate Board Member offers a similar experience for ALL directors on November 3-4 in Chicago. This event follows the essentially same format as the chair event, except you get to rotate to a new committee group in the afternoon to ensure you obtain the required knowledge on all the committees on which you serve.

So now that I have given you the overview, what can you expect if you’ve never been to a peer exchange? (continue reading… )

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