How to Select the Right Board Members

You want the best for your company’s future. Therefore, you want to select board members who are the most capable of charting that course. As you pore over resumes, consider the following qualities and traits. Candidates with these “soft skills” can often help launch your start-up to greatness. 

Vision and personality, not only experience. Look for vision and leadership ability first. Does an applicant possess insight, character, and good judgment? Identify these characteristics initially,  then take a closer look at experience. Many young leaders lack decades of experience but  possess a fresh perspective and energy. 

That’s not to say that experience isn’t important; it is. But it’s not the most important trait. In many cases a board composed of young, upcoming leaders, mixed with older members who possess wisdom and experience, can be a winning combination. 

Questions and answers. You will learn a lot about applicants by the questions they ask. Great leaders want to peek inside every nook and cranny within the operation to better understand it. Look for those who work outside the boardroom, visiting various departments and interacting with employees. 

Listening skills are important as well. Engaged, active listeners work better as a team than those who simply push their own agenda. 

Courage of conviction. Great leaders consider everyone involved, from the top of the company to the lowest rung. Don’t mistake strong moral convictions for stubbornness. Identify those who are truly looking out for the entire company. 

Don’t get too bedazzled by impressive resumes. Yes, it’s smart to add board members who possess experience. But an impressive resume means nothing if the individual isn’t eager to dive into learning about the new business. Current sitting CEOs are often too busy running their own businesses. 

Avoid appointing your own outgoing CEO. The presence of a former boss can feel oppressive to other members. They may be reluctant to criticize or question the ideas of a former authority figure. 

Dovetail strengths. A single applicant will never possess every ideal quality on your list. But by dovetailing multiple members who possess complementary traits, you can build a board with diverse strengths to take on various challenges. 

For more information on structuring your start-up business, call our office for expert advice. 


Picture of Michael Kimball, Esq.

Michael Kimball, Esq.

Mike Kimball offers practical, timely, and economical legal solutions that move projects along and allow you to focus more on your core business objectives. He has years of experience partnering with companies ranging from Silicon Valley startups to firms in aerospace, biotech, construction, and many more. Mike’s in-house experience includes Yahoo!, Krux Digital (acquired by Salesforce), and Commerce One. He has worked on transactions with Eurostar, Red Bull, Major League Baseball, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Liveramp, Amazon, and NASCAR.