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10 Reasons to Register Today for NACD’s Board Leadership Conference

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For corporate directors, time is a valuable resource. As such, I’m frequently asked why directors should carve out three days to attend NACD’s annual Board Leadership Conference, which is held every October in the nation’s capital. To me, it is obvious why those in the boardroom should attend this first-rate conference.

Here are the 10 reasons I shared with our NACD chapter leaders at a recent meeting in St. Louis, Missouri:

  1. Save $500 when registering by April 30. The NACD Board Leadership Conference is historically sold out, and this three-day conference represents the most important knowledge exchange for the world’s leading directors, C-suite executives, and governance experts.
  2. For directors by directors. Learn from leading boardroom practitioners, those who have endured many hard lessons you may not want to encounter yourself! Hear firsthand from Laban Jackson, audit committee chair of JPMorgan Chase, about the London Whale controversy and his perspective on the board’s role in risk oversight. Learn more about the shifting landscape of social media from Clara Shih, Starbucks director and CEO of Hearsay. Get the latest on how big data is impacting business with Rich Relevance CEO David Sellinger.
  3. Get more actionable takeaways than from any other conference. Address persistent challenges and gain “next practices” from your peers on the timeliest and most critical boardroom issues, including human capital management, emerging technology, compensation, and global markets.
  4. Make your voice heard. Take part in shaping thought leadership and talk to influential legislators, regulators, and stakeholders.
  5. Sharpen your committee skills. Attend a Sunday Board Committee Forum, including dedicated sessions on audit, compensation, nominating/governance, and risk. Network with peers during breaks following big-name keynote speakers, and share your opinion with peer-led panels and committee chairs who really understand your challenges.
  6. Get hands-on with social media. Visit our first ever social media learning lab, staffed by experts in the latest social media trends, who can show you the ropes and help you understand how social medial is affecting your business.
  7. Spark innovative thinking. Participate in active dialogues around Directorship 2020—NACD’s new initiative—to explore how and why the boardroom will change over the next several years and what you as a director need to know to keep pace. Gain exclusive insights gleaned from thought leaders and directors around the country in a report from our Directorship 2020 regional events.
  8. Build your network. Exchange ideas with nearly 800 directors from around the world, including those from Akamai Technologies, Ford, JetBlue, JPMorgan Chase, and Union Pacific, to name a few.
  9. Strengthen your reputation. The most sought-after directors are well informed and well connected. Your participation at this event will earn you recognition for your commitment to continuous learning. For those who have completed the Master Class, this conference confers all the elective requirements you need to become an NACD Board Leadership Fellow.
  10. Tailor your experience. There’s something for everyone. Join special breakouts for general counsels, private company directors, small-cap directors, and nonprofits organizations. With nearly 50 sessions, choose from unmatched session selection to meet your own boardroom needs and interests.

In my opinion, NACD’s Board Leadership Conference is not only a great value, but an experience every corporate director should take part in.

I look forward to seeing you this October in Washington, D.C. Register here.

Know Your Audience: Understanding the Board’s Expectations

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Know your audience–it’s often the first lesson in Public Speaking 101, but it’s also an important mantra for senior executives looking to improve the quality of their interaction with the board of directors. An issue my team often identifies when working with boards is a disconnect between the information the board needs and what the management team actually presents. We’ve seen this gap occur at companies of all sizes, industries, and levels of sophistication.

How management provides information to the board makes or breaks directors’ oversight role. Providing directors with the information they need to execute their duties is essential to fostering an environment where directors can succeed and be of most value to the company.

Through all my years of serving as general counsel, I have never received formal training on what directors require for their oversight role. Some questions that may arise are: What are their expectations for management? What perspectives do they bring to the table? What keeps them up at night? How much information is enough?

To help executive teams answer these questions, NACD recently introduced  Executive Professionalism: Understanding Board Expectations, an innovative program that allows the executive team to step into the boardroom in order better understand the fiduciary and strategic responsibilities that influence the questions directors ask. Led by seasoned directors, this in-boardroom program is specifically designed to help the senior management team better understand the role of the board, deliver the information directors need, and understand how to best engage with their board to meet and exceed expectations on both sides of the table.

In addition to my team’s direct experience with our clients, the issue of gaps in expectations between the board and management is raised by NACD’s members much more frequently. NACD has developed two tools to help companies address this gap:

Guidance for Director Decisions

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To be or not to be? Shakespeare’s tragic character, Hamlet—the beloved prince of Denmark—is famous for posing this basic existential question. Yet even before one can query his or her own being, there is a much more fundamental question that needs answering: To decide or not to decide?

This primary question is the philosophical starting point for a unique new publication, Director Decision Making: A Sensible Approach. Authors Chuck Re Corr and Clark Abrahams, both experienced directors, approach decision making in two parts: (1) defining the decision, and (2) making the decision.

The first part, Defining the Decision, may sound academic or theoretical, however, it’s as real as can be. This means asking the reason for the decision, looking at the problem that is prompting the decision, assessing the importance of the decision/problem, and asking when the decision must be made and by whom (some decisions must be made by the board; others can/should be delegated).

The second part, Making the Decision, covers remaining checkpoints: information for the decision, formality of the decision (e.g., when/how to take minutes), range of possible solutions to the decision, desired outcome, and monitoring after the fact.

The 26-page highly practical guide includes commentary on intuitive vs. deliberative decisions, and on probabilities, as well as a 2-page worksheet with 20 simple questions every board can (and in most cases should) ask before making any decision.

Will your board be asking them when it makes its next decision? That is the question.

I hope the answer is yes.

Director Decision Making: A Sensible Approach is available at the NACD Bookstore complimentary for members, $15 for non-members.