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7 Board Members Every Organization Needs

Putting together a Board of Directors is relatively easy--putting together the right Board takes know-how, planning and a little bit of luck.
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If you're in the position to choose or help choose board members, you need to make smart decisions. Map out what's expected of each board member and keep diversity in mind. There are pros and cons to celebrity board members as well as upsides and downsides to requiring financial contributions or not.

Every organization and company is different, and your board "must haves" might change from year to year as business grows. However, pursuing an eclectic Board of Directors is the key to the spice of business. Consider these must-have board members that you'll likely need at some point in business development:

1. The Passionate One

Every single Board Member should be passionate about the company and what you're striving towards. This shouldn't change, and it's a necessity for everyone. It doesn't matter how connected a person is if they don't really care about the business. If they just want to be on the Board to make their resume look better, take a pass.

2. The Doomsday-er

It's the American way to be an optimist and brush worst case scenarios under the table. However, the Doomsday-er can be a much-needed reality check when the rest of the Board turns a blind eye. This doesn't mean they're unnecessarily depressing, but it might mean they take a more holistic view of situations.

3. The Listener

You're going to get a lot of prospective board members who are used to being leaders and many leaders love to hear themselves talk. Listening to understand instead of listening to reply is a rare trait. However, if you can find a genuine Listener, they can help everyone see each other's angles.

4. The Cheerleader

Sometimes Boards face tough decisions and situations, so having a cheerleader on board can keep spirits up when everyone else is ready to throw in the towel. This person is usually naturally charismatic and you could see them as an inspirational speaker. When they're needed, they can save the day.

5. The Outsider

Few boards are truly diverse, and you'll probably notice a pattern when welcoming new members. At the very least, have a minimum of one "outsider" who has nothing in common with the core group. They're going to have an invaluable unique perspective and will attract more outsiders.

6. The Networker

Hopefully all of your members will have connections, but there's going to be one that rises to the top. They have celebrity connections (or maybe they are a celebrity), invitations to the hottest galas in town, have the best LinkedIn connections and always know what's happening in the industry. As a board member, their connections are your connections.

7. The Organizer

Board members have a tendency to pile their plates too high, but the Organizer can keep everyone on task and make sure those meeting actually take place. They're the Mother Bear of the group and the executive assistant wrapped into one. Without them, things will fall apart.

Every board is different and it will naturally evolve over time. However, without these magical seven, the trail's going to be tougher than it needs to be.

Last updated: Aug 26, 2014

DREW HENDRICKS | Columnist

Drew Hendricks is a tech, social-media, and environmental addict. He's written for many major publications, such as Forbes and Entrepreneur.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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