Top 5 Courses for Board Members

The job of a board member is critical.  It’s your job to “put noses in and keep fingers out.”

That means that you are serving on the board because of what you know, not what you can personally do for the organization.   Whether you are on a governing board, or an advisory board, you aren’t going to be serving in an operational role.  It’s your brain that matters.  Your knowledge is paramount.

But how much do you know?  Is it time to sharpen your skills so that you can bring real value to the organization?

Like everyone else, you need to upgrade your skills.  When the board member improves, the entire organization gets better!

You know that you have gaps in your knowledge base, but how do you go about filling them?

We all have the same options:

  • Piece it together for free using YouTube
  • Upend your life by taking expensive, formal, university classes
  • Engage in online e-learning

The advantage of e-learning is that you can study on your own time, from anywhere, at your own pace.  You will learn from industry professionals instead of theories out of books.

What you are looking for is practical knowledge.  A diploma might look good on your wall, but it won’t add much to your business results.

So, here is our list of five great e-learning courses for board members that are relatively short (between two and three hours), certificated, affordable (in some cases free), and very practical:

Course #1: Building your one-page strategic plan

This skill is really important for any board member.  It deals with significant destiny decisions and goals for the organization as a whole.  A strategic plan is something that should be at the top of every board member’s checklist for the organization.

In this course, you will learn to define the culture of the organization, determine the scope of it’s business operations, establish a numerical dashboard that defines success, and set long and near term goals.

Most organizations that have strategic plans hold them in a binder.  In this case, the plan will be on a single page.  This forces simplicity and clarity.  As it says in the course, ‘simplicity brings focus, complexity brings chaos.’

As the saying goes, those without a plan are planning to fail.

The course also comes with templates and cheat sheets.  Read more about it here:

Course #2: Personality testing using DISC

This course is free, and comes with a free, 25 question assessment and a seven-page booklet to go along with it.  It’s simple and very effective.    A leader must know where people fit in the organization, and how they’re motivated.

In this course, you will learn to understand the motivation and communication style of others and learn how to put people in roles that take advantage of their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.  The course comes with templates and cheat sheets.  This course is highly recommended, and can be viewed here:

Course #3: Learn to read financial statements

As a board member, you’re going to be dealing with financial statements.  How comfortable are you reading them, understanding them, and using them to make decisions for the future of the organization?

Are you embarrassed at your lack of financial literacy?  Are you confused by terms like Profit and Loss statement, earnings statement, and income statement?  Do your eyes gloss over when sheets of numbers are pulled out?  Or do you just need a refresher to sharpen your skills?

Either way, this free course that will take away the mystery of financial statements.

This course on financial statements will help you understand the financial strength of a company so that you can make informed decisions.  Find out more about it here:

Course #4: Objectively assessing your team

You are on the board because you have specialized knowledge.  A big part of your contribution is going to be dealing with people.  You will need to assess whether you have the right people in the key seats.  Is your CEO the right fit?  Do you have the right CFO?  Are potential joint venture partners or future board members the right people at the right time?

This course teaches a simple tool that takes away the subjectivity of assessing people.

It will also teach you how to build a development plan for key team members so the organization can thrive.  This course also comes with templates, cheat sheets, and book you can purchase on the topic if you’re interested further.  Find out more about it here:

Course #5: Discovering and implementing core values

In summary:

Board members are put in their role for what they know, now what they can do operationally in the organization.  So, they must continually upgrade their skills.  Online courses are a simple, affordable, and effective way to do that without the cost and time required to attend formal schooling.

The top 5 courses for board members are:

  1. Building your one-page strategic plan
  2. Personality testing using DISC
  3. Learn to read financial statements
  4. Objectively assessing your team
  5. Discovering and implementing core values

Additional  resources

Thanks for reading this article on The Top 5 young leader courses.  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

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