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Board meetings should not be for the benefit of the board. They should be for the benefit of the CEO and the senior team. Some boards meet monthly, but for most companies that’s overkill. Eight meetings a year is a great heartbeat for a board. Some CEOs and board chairs make the mistake of driving the board line by line through the agenda, cutting off meaty discussions in the name of staying on schedule. The purpose of board meetings is to have those meaty discussions. Most of the items should be strategic and thorny questions that the business must tackle to be successful. A technique I like a lot is when the CEO puts up a list of the three or four things that are “keeping me up at night” at the start of each meeting. Possibly the most important technique I’ve observed is the executive session at the end of the meeting. This is when the board meets without the CEO and team in the room and debriefs the CEO afterward. Boards should not miss this opportunity, and CEOs should demand it of them.
This article is an adaptation of a longer post on Wilson’s blog, AVC.com.