Setting High Standards for Exemplary Boards

The executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles recently published an excellent marketing document that highlights their board search practice and makes some important, valid assertions about how to build a best-in-class board.  While these comments are largely directed to public company boards, they are entirely applicable to privately held venture-backed companies.  Below are a few quotes that, in my view, are critically important for all venture company directors to practice:

"A successful board governs its company by continually challenging every significant facet of its operations: its business model, strategies and underlying assumptions; its operating performance; and its leadership development.  Far from being management’s rubber stamp, the best-in-class board fosters a culture of rigorous, relentless examination. It presses for continuous improvement, setting a tone for senior management that reverberates throghout the organization– to employees, to customers, to shareholders, and to the communities served by the company.  There is no better way to achieve sustainable competitive advantage."

"Truly exemplary boards are well-balanced teams that harness the diverse experiences, skills and intellects of their directors to pursue the strategic objectives of the companies they serve."

"Effective directors, knowing that a truly strong personality doesn’t need to be overpowering, are able to work well in a group.  And of course, directors must be independent inmore than name only."

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