Simon Sinek once said, “It’s better to have a great team than a team of greats.” This is true for staff and for building a successful board. As the CEO of a global nonprofit with 23 years of experience working closely with various boards of directors throughout my career, I can attest that having the best board team—whether it’s made up of 11 people or 80—will determine the degree of success an organization will achieve, both in the short term and well into the future. But it doesn’t happen by accident.

Assembling the right team for your organization’s board of directors, and then managing it effectively, requires strategic awareness and intentionality. While there are many aspects to a healthy board, there are three essential elements that serve as guideposts for leaders involved with nominating and developing their company’s governing body.

  1. Choose wisely.
    Be stingy and thoroughly vet new board members. Every position is critical to the health and culture of the leadership team—and ultimately to the entire organization.
  2. Communicate often.
    Early in my career, a wise board chair told me, “Nobody likes surprises unless it’s their birthday.” I live by that philosophy. If the only interaction we have with our board is during the regularly scheduled meetings, we shortchange what they can bring to the table. It also sets the stage for disunity and distrust. While no news can be good news, the lack of communication leaves people in the dark and reliant upon their own assumptions to inform them about what is happening within the company.
  3. Lead upward.
    The best boards rely heavily on the upward support given by the executive staff. They need executives who can cast a vision, set priorities and cultivate an environment that fosters growth. While it’s clearly understood that the board has the ultimate authority to preside over the affairs of the organization as outlined in the articles of incorporation and bylaws, the board chair and other members should take their lead from the recommendations of senior executives while leaning on the staff for information and support. This includes preparing and facilitating productive board meetings, educating members on trends and issues that impact the organization, and providing the most current and useful data.

Read the full article about building a healthy board by Jerry Haag at Forbes.