How Outside Board Members Can Shift Your Company

Martin Rowinski is the CEO of Boardsi, a corporate board recruitment company, and an investor and author.

CEOs and founders need to be very good at what they do to succeed, but no one alone can be an expert in every subject, nor in every area of a company. With the combined insights of a carefully curated board, however, maybe we can. A board offers additional perspectives and the wisdom of having gone through diverse experiences of success and failure. When done right, a board drives a company’s growth and innovation with tried and tested strategies, and it guides better, more holistic decision making.

While some of a company’s leadership might be well-suited to sit on its board, looking within to fill all board positions will severely limit its potential. Outside board members can help the company’s leadership see objectives and obstacles from different angles and paint a more complete picture.


What benefits do outsiders bring to the table?

For most companies, their board of directors is a required part of business governance and usually includes at least one company insider, like the CEO. To reap the most benefits from what a board can offer, however, it should also include members with specific qualifications that fill all the areas where a company most needs expertise. Few businesses have such high concentrations of top experts in all fields within their walls, much less expect all of them to be willing and able to be on a board. Seeking outside members opens up your options to find someone with the precise skills your company needs to support its growth trajectory.

Outside members bring unbiased advice and help boards make more objective decisions. Their fresh set of eyes can see more sides of a problem than a board of only company insiders, allowing them to target different objectives and pose new ways to approach solutions.


When many minds with this depth of knowledge strategize around a problem, they fill more potential holes and maximize the results of each effort, achieving goals faster. The company and its leadership benefit from the new skill sets as well as the networks of an outsider. Big names from an outside industry could bring credibility to a board, and their resources and contacts open up a new pool of options for recruiting top talent and investors.

Look outside your industry.

Board members with great experience in other industries can bring even more perspectives that open the door to new potential opportunities. This fresh view of the day-to-day of your company’s industry might offer solutions and improvements not only to the business but also to the industry itself. No one can be an expert in everything, but having board members with areas of expertise outside of your own can help solve problems at a higher level.


Above all, your board of directors should provide your company with good governance, which works most effectively when its members can cover more bases. A board member with experience as a CFO could provide stronger financial coverage. A COO could support the company in hiring, budgeting or administration. By turning to business leaders from other industries rather than your internal CFO or COO, you gain those valuable outside perspectives and expand the capacity of the company’s leadership, helping everyone do their job better.


How To Find Them

When looking for outside board members, the best first step is to consider where your company could use more experience or education and find people who fill those expertise gaps. Outside board members have the potential to redefine a company’s trajectory with explosive growth, but only for those who choose them wisely.

Instead of seeking years of experience working in your company’s industry, focus more on the specific skills an executive in any industry could offer your company and how much experience they have in developing each one. Target people with skills that would help resolve obstacles your business might be struggling to overcome.

Use the interview process to test if the outsider perspective a candidate brings with them comes with new ideas. Start with a deep dive into your company’s mission, vision and values. Define what you’re trying to accomplish, and make sure the candidate’s corresponding qualities align. Then, pick their brain. Ask how they would handle relevant scenarios so you can see if they bring something new to the table.

Don’t be afraid to look at different industries or seek outside input that aligns with your company’s goals. The skills your board members bring to your company can boost it to new heights, so choose wisely and then lean on your board members to take you there.


Source: Forbes

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