Series Volume 5: Why Build an Effective Board For Your Company?

NOV 10, 2016

We continue our ongoing series 'Why Build an Effective Board For Your Company?' and today we focus on important Topic #5: Creating Your Board's 'Sphere of Influence.'

So, what exactly do we mean by your Sphere of Influence? This refers to your Board's industry & vertical diversity and experience. You can think of your Sphere of Influence (people) as including chosen skillets in vertical orientations. I am personally a proponent of having Board representation from numerous industries at the table, not just those with direct experience in your company's vertical. Some of the best strategic plans for Boards I sit on have been created through the melding of concepts from multiple industries. Don't make the mistake of creating a team of mini-me's all with the same background and experience - you will be effectively creating a bubble of intelligence that is insulated from the rest of the world's best practices - a dangerous proposition in these times of fast change where quick adaptability is one of the keys to survival.

So, the vertical components of your Sphere of Influence should consider three parts:

  1. The skillset & expertise needs of your ideal board members,
  2. The industry & vertical experience needs of your ideal board members, and
  3. The current stage of growth of your company along with your growth aspirations

An example of an actual Sphere of Influence (correlating to 1 and 2 above) that we utilize at Integral Board Group to service clients is seen above. Note the importance of the center area calling for a core leadership competency as well as operations experience for each board member. It then fans out into specific skillset & expertise areas which are integrated across multiple industries & vertical experience. In our model, these 'coverage' areas are spread across 5 board members for a tight team. Your specific Sphere of Influence will vary depending on your business needs, but know that this model can be easily adapted to any company.

Another important consideration (correlating to #3 mentioned above) is your stage of growth as well as your growth aspirations. Know your current business stage of growth and build your team accordingly. Consider if you need specific skillsets and experience for transitional times in your growth plan or a core team to stick through the entire lifecycle. Other options include supplementing your core board with Board Advisors to guide through each transitional period. These are not easy decisions, but know that you have options.

Note: The vertical orientation (discussed in this article) of your Sphere of Influence is decidedly different from the upcoming newsletter Topic #6, your Board's 'Planes of Congruence' considerations which are your horizontal considerations. Stay tuned...

What will you consider when building or evaluating your Board?

In two weeks, our ongoing series will touch on the concept of your Board's 'Planes of Congruence,' which expands on the selection planning criteria for building an effective board team. Continue to read our ongoing series on the important focus areas you need to be thinking about in order to build an effective board for your company. Also, see the previous newsletters focusing on Topic #1: 'Why Create Your Board?', Topic #2: 'When to Create Your Board?', Topic #3: 'What Makes a Great Board?' and Topic #4: 'Evaluating Your Company's Values, Vision and Mission.'


About the Author:  In addition to sitting on numerous boards, Mark A. Pfister advises public, private and non-profit boards in efficient and effective operations. He is the inventor of the 'Board as a Service' (BaaS) engagement model and an expert project / program manager frequently consulting on strategic global initiatives in their initiation phases as well as programs that require remedial focus to bring them back on track. Mark holds a Professional Director Certification through the American College of Corporate Directors (ACCD).

Have Mark join you with his 2017 National Speaking Tour 'Building an Effective Board For Your Company' as he shows business owners and leaders the immense value of creating an experienced 'go-to' team.