Reach out for that first-time candidate: five good reasons why bringing on a first-time board member can strengthen your board.

Author:Babiak, Jan

COMPOSING A SLATE OF DIRECTORS in today's demanding environment resembles building an orchestra, filling each chair with just the right person for the job. Many boards mainly look for CEOs as new directors. This is not surprising because a group of CEOs is relatable and, by definition, already has board experience. Yet a boardroom maestro needs specific players for particular roles, rather than replicas of himself or herself. Meanwhile, public company CEO responsibilities keep expanding, meaning that few have time or are allowed by good governance or regulation to sit on more than one--or maybe two--outside boards.

As a result, boardroom composition is beginning to shift from all (or mostly) CEOs, and, as a byproduct, accelerating the proven commercial benefits of diverse experience around a board table.

Nominating committees that have already figured this out are looking beyond the ranks of those who currently sit on public company boards. These companies require seasoned leaders with boardroom experience, not wide-eyed rookies hoping to prove themselves in the big leagues of board service. Moreover, adding the right first-time director to a board may be the definition of "first-time lucky." For example, think of the many businessmen and women who regularly attend and present at board meetings while running large operations that face the same challenges as public boards.



Considering first-time board candidates can unearth superb, undiscovered players who may not surface automatically in many board members' personal networks. Two key moves--expanding the search to those with "board exposure," not just "board service," and switching from a title-based search (e.g., CEO, CFO) to an experienced-based search--opens the door to talented and qualified first-time candidates. Executive search consultants also can broaden their mandate to include organizations of the world's most successful entrepreneurs and corporate leaders, such as The Committee of 200, an international, invitation-only membership organization composed of the world's most successful female business leaders.

But what is even more important than infiltrating high-profile business networks and hiring talented search professionals is understanding why change makes sense in the first place. Here are five good reasons why a board should consider reaching out for a first-time public board member as its next director.

Reason 1: More...

To continue reading