I get this question all the time. And it is a timely one, since it is estimated that there will be a huge turnover of board members within the next 10 years because of all the baby boomer retirements.
I believe that the board and the CEO both have a role in the recruitment of new board members. The CEO, you might ask? During the many talks that I have given around the country regarding board succession planning, I always get some push back when I mention the CEO being involved in recruiting new directors. These individuals tell me that they feel that if the CEO is involved he/she may recommend their “friends” and therefore “stack” the board with people who would be on their side.
I believe the CEO can play a valuable role in helping recruit new board members. He/she usually has a lot of contacts in the community and can potentially influence topnotch people to consider being a board member.
I think the CEO’s role ends after he/she has presented the names of potential candidates to the board or Nominating Committee. It is then the board’s responsibility (usually through a Nominating Committee) to determine who could potentially be a good “fit” to be a director at their organization.
I think the key to any successful board succession planning activity is to have a structured process in place. Also, it is important to have board succession planning be an ongoing process and not one that is done when an opening comes up.
What is your board succession planning process? Are you ready if board turnover occurs at your organization?