Top 10 Tips to Help You in Your Journey to a Corporate Board

24204696032_a798910212_b

Being a Corporate Director is much different than being an executive. A Corporate Director’s role is one of oversight whereas an executive’s role is to manage day-to-day operations. Getting yourself board-ready is a journey where you need to be realistic in your skills, experience and value you bring to a board. You also need to be mindful that it is a very competitive marketplace. There is an over-supply of qualified Corporate Directors for a limited supply of available corporate board seats.

As a Corporate Director and co-founder of Women Get On Board, my goal is to help executives make that transition effectively. This is why I want to share my top 10 tips to help you in your journey to a corporate board.

  1. Be fearless — use your confidence to embrace change.
    ~
    Be independent minded and stand up for what you believe in.
    ~Do the right thing and be ethical in your decisions.
    ~Have courage, be brave, be decisive and be determined.
  1. Plan your journey, set goals and plan the path to your success.
    ~
    Be aspirational in your goals. What do you have a strong desire, longing, aim or ambition for.
    ~Think outside your comfort zone. Where do you want to be in 5 years, 10 years or maybe even 20 years from today?
    ~Tell your inner circle about your journey, goals and/or plans for your future.
  1. Be curious — explore new opportunities and solve problems.
    ~
    Don’t be afraid to ask questions; seek to understand.
    ~Look for ways to re-invent yourself.
    ~Change is good, change is inevitable, so make change part of your life.
  1. Get involved in your community.
    ~
    Seek out not-for-profit board opportunities.
    ~Volunteer for a cause that you care about.
    ~You will meet new people outside of your current business circle that you can help make a difference. 
  1. Continuous learning — invest in your professional development.
    ~
    As professionals we have continuing professional development requirements…go beyond your requirements.
    ~Mastery =10,000 hours in a particular skill/expertise etc.
    ~Knowledge is power, so keep learning!
  1. Be your authentic self. (From The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz)
    ~“Be Impeccable with your Word.”
    ~“Don’t take anything Personal.”
    ~“Don’t Make Assumptions.”
    ~“Always do your Best.”
  1. Network, network, network.
    ~
    Go to events that matter to you and meet new people.
    ~Invite someone new out to lunch or coffee.
    ~Ask for introductions.
  1. Be visible — speak up and stand out.
    ~
    Be a thought leader; post your blogs, presentations and articles on social media.
    ~Speak up/comment on topics you care about or have expertise on.
    ~Take on leadership roles.
  1. Seek out mentors and sponsors.
    ~
    Look for a mentor outside of your organization. Find someone who inspires you.
    ~Become a mentor to others. You will learn a lot from them!
    ~Seek out a sponsor. Look for someone who will make introductions for you.
  1. Embrace and use social media to promote yourself.
    ~Enhance your profile on LinkedIn.
    ~Be active, thoughtful and relevant in your social media.
    ~Leverage your LinkedIn to attract new business, speaking and career opportunities.

If you would like more information and tips on how to prepare yourself for board roles, please visit Women Get On Board for information on the 2016 Getting Board-ready workshops. The purpose of the workshops is to help women gain insights and learn about the skills they need to prepare for board opportunities. These half-day workshops will be facilitated by corporate directors and governance experts. They will share their experiences to empower women to become more confident in order to lead and serve on boards.

How to Build Your Board Resume

We would like to thank our Event Partner, Stanton Chase Toronto with Managing Partners Cathy Logue and Joanne  Elek for their support of  our April 6th Roundtable Event “How to Build Your Board Resume.” We also appreciate the participation of our moderator Kelly McDougald and our panellists Lisa Melchior and Tom Muir.

Building a Board Resume is a journey that involves many stages. It’s a continuous process of showcasing yourself as a board candidate through documentation, networking and interviews.

The concept of “wisdom trumps knowledge” and how this can add value to a Board

Even those who have deep experience and functional knowledge don’t always have all the answers. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge, judgment, and experience — all important components that go into good decision-making.

Some people feel that if they don’t have a CPA designation they don’t add value, but that’s not the case. Each board member has different things to contribute, and brings a unique perspective and experience. Sometimes, the most effective people to contribute to discussion and debate are those with the least subject knowledge because they can be objective.

The importance of being “multi-dimensional” for a potential board opportunity

During an interview, will you will be asked about your area of expertise and to demonstrate how much depth you have in your area of specialty. Over the course of your career it’s important to become an expert on something because it will increase your unique value. Board members will see not just how much knowledge you have, but more importantly, how you reflected on it and spent time applying that knowledge. They will look for your examples of how you handled decision-making in a stressful or difficult situation. Give them scenarios of how you worked through a very complex problem and produced great results. It’s about demonstrating where you lean-in and take leadership roles on committees and sub committees. Don’t be afraid to talk about your experiences.

The difference between a career resume and a board resume

A career resume highlights the roles and accomplishments you have achieved as a professional. A board resume showcases your unique value proposition and what skills/expertise and industry knowledge you bring to a board. You should demonstrate the governance leadership roles you have taken in the boards you have served on, i.e. what committees you have chaired, and highlight your board journey with the various boards you have served on.

Do you need governance education to serve on a board?

A common question among individuals embarking on a board career is whether or not they need to have a formal governance certification or designation (C.Dir or ICD.D). While it provides a valuable base to prepare you for board roles, it is not always a requirement. Your skills/expertise and board governance experience along with your industry knowledge are what boards look for first.

Three Tips on how to enhance your board experience & skills

  1. Demonstrate leadership by joining a committee, and demonstrating your strengths and skills. Try to get on committees and chair committees that are away from your functional area. For example, if you are in finance, try HR or a quality committee to broaden your scope and experience.
  2. Find a topic that you are passionate about and you will engage people in a more meaningful way. You can increase your engagement by going to workshops and seminars where you can connect with others in the same niche.
  3. Stay current with industry trends by reading articles and director’s journals on change management and organizational development. Keep yourself well versed on new management techniques, as it gives you the ability to engage and understand current events and trends.