1 THE CHATTERBOX
The non-executive in love with the sound of their own voice, who absorbs more than their share of airtime, sucks the oxygen out of the boardroom and is rarely heeded by colleagues.
2 THE MUTE
As flawed as the director who speaks too much is the director who says nothing. Directors are invited to join a board because of the contribution they can make. But even the sharpest strategic insight or operational nous can’t add value if it remains buttoned up inside. So speak up. (Just not too much).
3 THE STUCK RECORD
Nothing frustrates board colleagues more than an Independent Director who has never escaped their executive career. Comments along the lines of ‘in my day’ or ‘well, the way we always did it at my last company’ prompt muffled groans around the board table.
4 THE GRANDSTANDER
A board operates on the basis that executive and non-executive members work collectively to set strategic direction and solve problems. But there’s a breed of non-executive which doesn’t want to belong to a team, but just wants to show how clever they are. These directors do not enjoy long and successful portfolio careers.
5 THE LAZYBONES
It is immediately obvious to board directors which of their colleagues has read, digested and thought about the board papers. And which have skimmed them on the way to the meeting. Don’t be the latter.
6 THE NO-SHOW
“Actually, would it be okay if I joined the June board meeting by phone?” No, it really wouldn’t. Don’t take the job if you can’t make the meetings. Woody Allen once said that “80 percent of life is showing up”. For independent directors, make that 100 per cent.
7 THE FAIR WEATHER FRIEND
At times of crisis, good boards pull together. Bad boards fall apart because individual directors are more concerned with the consequences for them and their reputation. Great directors put the business first. Bad ones think about themselves.
This piece was originally published in Odgers Berndtson’s Observe magazine.