How Board Work Differs From Executive Leadership Roles
Many senior leaders aspire to serve on a publicly- or privately-held corporate board. It’s a great way to leverage your expertise in a new way, grow professionally and make meaningful contributions to respected organizations.
But, moving from hands-on leadership to an oversight role means leveraging your skills and experience differently. We recommend reflection and preparation in these five key areas:
1. Commitment. Studies show that directors routinely invest 300 or more hours each year. It’s a significant investment that includes time for preparation, attending scheduled meetings, participating in committees—and tackling the unexpected. It’s important to have the right motivation, as well as sufficient time and a flexible schedule.
- Can you balance board service with your current schedule and priorities?
- What type of company will most value your contributions?
2. Perspective. Leading a business requires operational savvy and financial acumen. Serving on a board means stepping back from day-to-day management, and adding value through thought leadership and governance. This distinction is one of the biggest changes in a board role.
- How will your functional area of expertise bring value to a board?
- What strengths can you offer in an oversight and governance capacity?
3. Communication. Boards value candor and confidence—but they also expect a collegial environment. They appreciate team players who build relationships and collaborate more than they command. Making that shift can take practice if you’re accustomed to having the final say.
- How have you successfully shared a vision or motivated others in the past?
- Can you support, challenge and guide through questions and examples—rather than orders or direct action?
4. Value proposition. Board openings attract numerous, highly qualified candidates. Standing out requires more than a resume. Top prospects create specific market messages and a board bio. It’s essential to articulate your strengths, expertise and critical thinking more than results from previous roles.
- Are you emphasizing strategic activities and thought leadership, rather than operational achievements?
- Are you demonstrating your ability to lead business transformation, challenge conventional wisdom or resolve complex situations?
5. Connections. Cultivating a strong professional network creates a definite advantage. Most board opening are unadvertised, making referrals and word-of-mouth vital to your search. Your network should include C-suite executives, board members, executives on nominating committees and high-ranking individuals from a cross-section of industries.
- Do you have a strategy to build your professional network?
- Are you actively meeting with the right people, at the right levels, to identify board opportunities and enhance your candidacy?
Land a seat at the table. We can help! Our Board Readiness service helps seasoned executives understand the board landscape, evaluate your readiness and market yourself effectively. It’s a collaborative and customized process that positions you for success.