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Board service is an excellent opportunity to step outside your day-to-day business role and hone your ability to think about an organization as the whole, not just the functional areas you’ve managed in the past. You will also be exposed to a wider variety of problems and issues faced by businesses. You might have to make tough decisions that will affect individuals negatively, such as deciding on redundancies or closing down the branch. These situations require you to think about the issue in hand and not be influenced by your personal emotions or those of your colleagues.

Another issue to be addressed is how to ensure that a wide spectrum of voices are heard in the decision-making and deliberations. There are a number of methods boards employ to achieve this. Some boards allow directors to be devil’s advocates in meetings, while others make use of whiteboards for brainstorming and spitball possible solutions before making a decision. This helps to separate the decision-making process from the individual’s perspective and can help to avoid groupthink.

Boards can boost their effectiveness when they are willing to challenge the long-standing norms. Many board members, for example are re-examining their committee structures. They question whether they are serving their purpose and are an effective method to conduct meetings. They are looking at innovative ways to identify patterns and trends that could be hidden within data and digital tools.