The Director's & Officer's Guide to Advisory Boards

By Robert K. Mueller | Go to book overview

14
ADVISING THE FAMILY
BUSINESS BOARD

A fund-raising letter from the Niagara Lutheran Home in Buffalo said in part: "The building and grounds committee has presented a rough estimate of $75,000 for needed repairs to the board of directors." Perhaps adding some outside directors or advisors, at less cost, could remedy this situation. I know from many years as an active director and advisor to boards in both family and public companies that experienced outsiders can often perform preventive maintenance on the hidden stresses inherent in governing a business. In family companies in particular these stresses stem from the ever-existent clash of goals and values of individual family owners also serving as directors and managers.

The outside director or advisor can perform a distinctive service by enabling the board of a family business to give the right priority to the important things to worry about. Effective outsiders provide objectivity in key relationships, transitions, and interactions. Closely held corporation boards usually have closely knit membership, often family members, the family attorney or banker, other relatives, and long-time friends. This makes up a coopted group which, at times, is unable to effectively deal with the business issues objectively. This hangup is due to the social contracts that implicitly exist between board members. Recently, I was asked to serve as an advisory director to such a family-dominated firm's board. After a lengthy get-acquainted exposure to allay fears of the family directors that such outsider contribution to their governance process would be acceptable and professionally offered, an arrangement was made that proved very helpful over a three-year crisis period.

-189-

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The Director's & Officer's Guide to Advisory Boards
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles from Quorum Books ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - Advisors Unlimited 9
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Driving Forces 27
  • Notes 35
  • 3 - Counseling Versus Consulting Versus Mentoring 37
  • Notes 41
  • 4 - Role of an Advisory Board or Council 43
  • Notes 64
  • 5 - Activity and Societal Scan 65
  • 6 - Species of Advisory Boards 77
  • Notes 88
  • 7 - Weak-Signal Governance/Early Warning Advisory Systems 89
  • Notes 101
  • 8 - Advising Non- Profit-Seeking Versus Profit- Seeking Organizations 103
  • Notes 108
  • 9 - Care and Feeding of Advisory Boards 111
  • Notes 121
  • 10 - Insurance, Indemnification, and Contractual Matters 123
  • Notes 134
  • 11 - Advisory View of Corporate Strategy 135
  • Notes 148
  • 12 - Advisory Board Perspectives: Stakeholder Strategy 149
  • Notes 170
  • 13 - The Power of Advisory Board Networks 173
  • Notes 187
  • 14 - Advising the Family Business Board 189
  • Notes 201
  • 15 - Cultural Realities Facing Advisory Boards 203
  • 16 - Advising on Nonprofit Trusteeship Pathologies 223
  • Notes 240
  • Appendix ADVISEE SEARCH: GETTING INVITED TO SERVE AS ADVISOR 241
  • Notes 255
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY AND REFERENCE READING LIST 257
  • Index 263
  • About the Author 279
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