The Top 10 Errors of Corporate Directors

Are you currently a member of a board of directors, or do you hope one day to take the role as a board member?

I came across this short video from the Irish Institute of Directors sharing 10 common mistakes made by company directors. George Bartlett shares from his 25 years of experience as a board member.

George Bartlett, over 25 years experience as a Corporate Director

The top 10 Errors of Corporate Directors

  1. Acting solely in the interests of shareholders, not in the interests of the company as a whole
  2. Lack of independent judgement – falling into Groupthink – Not having strength in your own convictions, not willing to be a minority of one.
  3. Not seeing the risks facing the business
  4. Failing to stand up to dominant or highly influential board members. As a board members you have “joint and several liability” you are both jointly and individually responsible for all board decision making. If you see risks, bring up those risks.
  5. Making promises you can’t keep – not maintaining integrity in all you do and say
  6. Not empowering employees – forgetting the power of a few encouraging words from you to any individual employee
  7. Not Challenging – challenge everything – assumptions, thinking process, risk analysis… and even your own strong opinions and assumptions. (Video: how to give feedback that is both authentic and respectful of the other)
  8. Losing sight of the big picture – micromanaging details. As most board members spend much of their career in executive roles, it can be hard to let go of details.
  9. Not being a Custodian of the corporate standards – quality of governance, quality of service, quality of discussion, quality of recruitment, quality of people development…
  10. Not Listening – to all voices with a role in the company’s future. (to listen well, you need to learn to ask great questions)

Are you currently a board member? What lessons have you learnt? What tips and guidance would you share with someone who has interest in becoming an effective board member?

More Corporate Governance tips from George

George Bartlett shares some corporate governance tips.

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2 Comments

  1. Very interesting Conor. In my opinion, as a board member, besides all the points George mentioned, I would remark, “building trust”, this means to act accordingly to the values and standards of the organization, being an ambassador of those principles, building trust with the rest of the directors, top management and stakeholders of the organization. The second one, is helping to build strategic thinking capabilities in the organization, this means, being proactive, bringing knowledge, raising topics, proposing experts, advocating for external alliances and so on that may help the organization to strike a balance between what is important now and what will be in the future. And the third one, is having a growth mindset, this means, understanding the business as a powerful tool to create sustainable value for customers, associates, investors, community and all stakeholders involved.

    1. I think the Vistage concept of “Care-frontational” comes in here – George talks about “challenge, challenge, challenge” – but you can only be really challenging when there is a strong basis of trust and caring about the other’s personal and professional goals 😉

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