For the last 29 years, TK Kerstetter has served on the board of a public company, created new venues to educate corporate directors, and published thought leadership on how boards and their members can be more effective in building shareholder value.
No stranger to this publication, TK served as CEO of Board Member Inc., publisher of Corporate Board Member, and went on to serve as chairman of NYSE Governance Services when the New York Stock Exchange purchased the company in 2010. Today, Kerstetter hosts the popular web show Inside America’s Boardrooms filmed at the Nasdaq MarketSite, where he interviews board members, CEOs, corporate secretaries, institutional investors, and regulators on issues affecting the boardrooms of today and tomorrow.
Corporate Board Member’s Deborah Scally sat with TK to discuss everything from the most dramatic changes he has seen to the most difficult challenges boards face today, as well as what board members can expect in the future.
What does he think makes a great board? “I think there are a ton of factors that, taken together, can create a positive dynamic to turn an average board into a great board,” he says. “We’ve found that people like to measure boards by how successful they have been in enhancing shareholder value, especially long term, but being a great board, in my mind, is more than that.
If pressed, there are two factors in addition to financial performance that differentiate a great board from a good board. The first is board leadership and its contribution in all phases of board life. These include CEO/board relations; board composition; board, committee, and peer evaluations; and financial and compliance oversight.
Board leadership mostly resides in non-executive chairman or lead director titles, but there also can be an individual on the board who possesses the skills to organize and focus at critical times. Boards can’t be afraid of designating someone on their board to lead. Yes, we want boards to be collegial, but it’s more important to be effective than happy just getting along.”