Not everyone can be a board member. Before you set out to recruit, it is imperative that you know the qualities individuals need to possess to be successful. Having just one or two won't do; candidates must have all of them if they are to be a great asset to the board. Howard Berman, in his book "Making a Difference," listed the seven qualities you need to look for during the recruiting process:
- Integrity: Demonstrating a zero tolerance for unethical behavior, both for themselves and their colleagues.
- Independence: Having no unique business, financial or personal relationships -- or hoped-for-relationships -- that create even the perception of a conflict of interest.
- Mature Confidence: Speaking out and actively participating in board and committee deliberations.
- Corporate Manners: Recognizing the difference between productively participating in discussions and counterproductively dominating deliberations through the volume or length of comments. Must be able to work with other members to create workable compromises.
- A Sense of Context: Making relevant, informed comments focused on the specific aspect of the issue being considered. Must be able to stay on topic.
- Courage: Willingness to do the right thing/make the right decision even if it is difficult or unpopular (i.e., no fence sitting).
- Commitment: Understanding that being an effective board member requires the time, the heart, and the standards to make the enterprise successful.