There are many reasons why senior-level professionals and executives consider joining the board of an organization. Some pursue such an opportunity to improve their brand reputation. Some do it for the additional compensation. And others want to become a board member to build their network or accelerate their careers.
Whatever your reasons, prior to crafting a plan to pursue a board position, there are several questions you should ask yourself to ensure that taking a seat on a board is right for you:
1) Why do you want to be on a board of directors?
Some of the reasons for pursuing a board position are mentioned above. Others include acquiring specific experience, improving your international profile or playing a role in fighting for a cause about which you feel passionate.
If your reasons don’t include a true desire to support the interests of an organization and its stakeholders or shareholders, then being a board member may not be right for you.
If you fail to honor the commitment that comes with being a on a board, you can potentially sabotage your career goals – particularly ones related to your brand reputation.
2) Are you qualified?
- Do you have a background or experience that can contribute to an organization's growth objectives?
- Is it clear how you could add strategic value to an organization?
- Can you think creatively and come up with new ways of exploring common challenges?
Trying to pursue a board position when you are not sufficiently qualified could result in disappointment and wasted time and energy.
If you lack the right skills, expertise or experience, then use the desire to be on a board as a motivating force to acquire those things.
3) Are you well suited to being a member of a board?
- How well do you handle it when others disagree with you or when your ideas or advice are challenged?
- Do you consider yourself ethical and can make choices aligned with your values and beliefs even in the face of strong political influences?
- Are you willing to be held accountable for your commitments?
If you prefer operating independently, don’t deal well with people challenging your ideas, or do not welcome others holding you accountable, then you might give a second thought to pursuing a board position.
Working within a board requires the ability to play well with others. Trying to be something that you are not (by not respecting you natural work style and preferences) is always difficult and usually does not end well.
If you struggle in primarily team-based environments or with navigating the challenges that come with company politics, it might serve you better to consider how you could leverage your strengths in other ways to achieve your career goals.
However if you can answer yes to the questions above, then you may be well suited to start the (often long) journey towards landing a board position in your organization of choice.
4) What type of organizations would be a good fit for you?
What organizations …
- Share the same values and vision you have for the world?
- Have initiatives you’d been keen to support?
- Would be aligned with your experience, training, and career goals?
- Have board members whom you respect?
- Are aligned with your profit or non-profit preferences?
Choosing the right organizations to pursue for board positions is critical to your success in landing a board position as well as performing well in it. Be sure to target those that are truly aligned with your own values, skills, experience and goals to best set yourself up to land roles and thrive in them.
EXPAT AND INTERNATIONAL CAREER SUCCESS TIP: If you are considering taking on the challenge of becoming a member of a board, honestly answer these four questions above. By doing so you’ll be much more clear on whether or not securing a board position is the best way to realize certain career goals, as well as which organizations are the best ones to pursue. And this will insure that taking on a board position will be an enjoyable experience and set you up for long term career success.
Would you like to use this article in your newsletter or website? Permission will be given to those who include this information: Author: Megan Fitzgerald, expat and international career coach, helps forward-thinking expats become highly visible, valued experts and leaders and succeed abroad. Sign up for expat and international career success tips: www.careerbychoiceblog.com
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