The Role Of Advisory Boards #succession

Richard Shrapnel's Orienteering Succession blog

The establishment of an advisory board is an integral part of a succession process, but you must appoint the right people, with the right skills, and for the right reasons.


Active Knowledge Question:

What do you believe could be the function and benefits of having an advisory board in your business?


All business leaders have advisors who serve as a sounding board and provide technical expertise and experience. In some instances, these are formalised positions; in others, they are far more informal. Friends and peers, I would place in another category altogether, even though their advice may sometimes be held in higher regard.

When succession comes around the role of these advisors must be carefully weighed. Why? Because you are now moving to transition leadership to a new team and the advisory board must be crafted to support the needs of that new leadership team. And those needs are likely to be very different to the needs of the existing team.

As the succession process moves forward, new leaders could be sitting on the board of directors, as the CEO, or in senior management positions. The general language of an advisory board describes those individuals who you introduce into this mix to provide the experience and expertise you feel may be needed.

These people may sit as advisors on the board of directors, they could be a separate team that meet independent of the board and provide discrete advice, or they could be someone working alongside the new CEO. A key aspect, however, is that they exist to support the new leadership team members and, therefore, must be able to build a rapport and trust with those new members.

Often, advisory board members are chosen because they are trusted by the incumbent team, but that fact may form a barrier for them in building a relationship with the new team. They should not be appointed to watch over and control the new team or to extend the voice of the incumbent team, but rather, to fill the technical or experience gaps that the new team may have.

I would commence this process by asking the new leaders to nominate what areas they feel they need support in, and who they feel may be able to support them. Then, work forward from this starting point to find suitable candidates.


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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel