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Avoiding the celebrity crush to build a better board

Posted by DeeDee DeMan – A film starring Leonardo DiCaprio is apt to do better at the box office than one that doesn’t feature his talents, and LeBron James has been to the NBA Finals eight years in a row. The moral? Big names can yield big results. But when we step away from entertainment or athletics and focus on the workplace, is the same true in the board room? Are big names better?

Not necessarily.

The case against “celebrity” board members

Adding a big name in the company board room may sound like a good idea in theory, but experience shows it rarely plays out effectively in practice. With a generally accepted 360-hours-per-year commitment being necessary for effective board membership, many “celebrity” board members don’t have the available time to be successful. This is particularly true if they sit on 6-7 boards or more.

Choices for time allocation must be made and someone has to be at the bottom.

In many cases once this hierarchy is finalized, those that need support the most — whether they be small companies starting out or companies with a negative profit/loss ratio — are apt to receive less time than growing, profitable companies with exciting developments on the horizon. Everyone likes to be part of a winner.

Building better board hygiene

All companies — regardless of size or fiscal health — deserve a board committed to their growth, and that isn’t always found with big-name, celebrity board members. Fortunately, adding such board members isn’t necessary, nor even advised. Instead a company’s shareholders owe it to themselves, their company and its current board to explore non-celebrity, passionate would-be board member options that will best serve the company’s future and its changing needs.

These board members are out there; businesses just have to find them. Those that do will find they are better served not by an existing big name but by one they helped create. In response to this critical need, Bench’s mission is to ensure that the knowledge and skill gaps boards suffer are acted upon by delivering relevant and highly skilled content leaders to serve as independent board directors. As a woman founded business, Bench’s commitment to heterogeneity is equally mission critical.