Board service is a great way to broaden your horizons and enhance your ability to examine an organization in its entirety rather than just the functional areas that you have managed. It also exposes you a wider range of challenges and issues that companies confront. For instance, you might have to make tough decisions that impact people negatively like deciding to cut redundancies or closing a branch. These situations require you to look at the issue at hand and not to be swayed by your own emotions or the opinions of your colleagues.

Another issue that is raised is how to ensure that a large number of voices are heard during deliberations as well as during the decision-making process. There are many techniques that boards use to accomplish this. For example, some boards encourage directors to play devil’s advocate at meetings and others use the whiteboard method to brainstorm and’spitball’ possible solutions prior to making the decision. This helps to separate decision-making from the nature of people and helps avoid groupthink.

Boards can also boost their effectiveness by being willing to challenge the traditional structures that have been in place for a long time. A number of board members, for example, are re-examining the committee structures. They are evaluating whether they are serving their purpose and are the most efficient method of running meetings. They are looking at new ways of identifying patterns and trends that could be hidden in data and digital tools.