4 Strategies to Secure a Corporate Board Seat
04 Jan 2023
1. Demonstrate your ability to add value.
Whether you’re in the early, mid, or later stages of your career, if you want to secure a board seat, now is the time to make others aware of your ability to add value. Your goal is to ensure that people see you as someone who can help.
To demonstrate your suitability, you need to showcase your ability to have high-level strategic conversations at an executive level. That involves deep and active listening, characterized by seeking information, engaging in dialogue, and challenging others’ thought processes.
2. Gain board exposure.
There’s a wide variety of boards (e.g., private corporate, small-cap public corporate, large-cap public corporate, nonprofit), and each type has a unique focus, impact, and set of needed director competencies. You need to understand these differences to demonstrate your value as a potential board member. Doing the legwork will help you determine which boards you are most interested in serving and where you may be able to add the most value.
You can take three steps to build this knowledge and experience. First, identify board members in your existing network and ask them about their experiences and observations. If you don’t have these relationships, you can find them through affinity groups or by asking your contacts to introduce you to current board members. You may also review issues of board-related magazines such as Directors & Boards, Directorship, or Private Company Director to begin familiarizing yourself with the concerns and activities of various kinds of boards.
Second, join professional organizations dedicated to board effectiveness, such as National Association of Corporate Directors, 50/50 Women on Boards, the Executive Leadership Council, Black Corporate Board Readiness Program, Black Women on Boards, African American Directors Forum, Women Corporate Directors, OnBoarding Women, Director Diversity Initiative, Private Directors Association, and many more.
Third, gain exposure to boards by interacting with your own company’s board. Attend board meetings or offer to present.
3. Be your own best advocate.
If you want to secure a board seat, you need to become a vocal self-advocate. Let your friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances know that you’re interested in serving on corporate boards, which types of boards you would be a great fit for, and why you’re interested in serving. These elements make up your “board readiness story.” When you share this story with everyone and anyone, you help others advocate for you and increase the chances that you will come to mind when a board seat opens.
4. Build and nurture your network.
The directors I spoke with emphasized that networking is key to getting on boards because of the inherently social nature of recruiting and placing new directors. If you desire a board seat, you need to make sure the right people know you and say positive things about you, that you learn from their experiences, and that you maintain positive relationships throughout your network — even if it has been years since you worked together.
Read the article here.