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How To Be An Effective Director As Standards Change

Harvey L. Pitt | October 26, 2004

Being an effective director is a learned, not innate, skill. Nor is it a static proposition. Standards for directors change over time, especially as we consider more about what directors should do, and as we learn what happens when there are important things they don’t do. To ensure and improve their effectiveness, directors must continually evaluate how best to meet their fiduciary, legal, ethical and corporate governance responsibilities.
To help in this undertaking, this is the first of an occasional series of “how to” columns on directing.

For at least a century, the role of non-management corporate directors was often treated as one of passivity, not activism. Power to manage a corporation’s affairs was believed to reside exclusively in the hands of its senior officers, with the proper role of outside directors being generically and non-intrusively to oversee, and approve—when asked to do so—significant managerial decisions. This...

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