Over the last few years, I have heard from a number of board candidates about their biggest challenges. I have dug through my notes to share these. My hope is that the definitions and tips will bring further insights that will leverage and prioritize your time and efforts to gain a board seat.
Boards move slowly. This makes keeping in touch essential for director candidates. Some become discouraged, lose momentum, or completely stop networking. Those who remain consistent in their networking and communication efforts have an advantage.
2. A Clear Focus
The board world is large and mysterious. Without a well-defined board-level value proposition of what you bring to a board—one that provides focus and definition—then, time and energy is spent in a mud-on-the-wall approach and drains any sense of confidence that could be used to capitalize on potential opportunities. This is not just about having a good resume, you need to know how you can bring value, to what size company boards, and in what industry.
3. Priorities that Have Impact
There is a diverse set of stakeholders that are a part of the networking to gain a board seat. This is a complex business ecosystem in which to execute and can cause indecisiveness. Stakeholders, once defined, must be weighted for level of importance and leveraged to help you gain visibility.
Boards are in a time of transition in defining who will be the next director. For the transformations happening now and in the future, your talents need to be closely aligned with the agendas and priorities with the boards on your target list. Build a strategic message about why you should be their next director.
The market is producing a number of new ways to identify the next generation candidate. This makes it hard to know where you need to be and to stay on top of the trends. Ensure your reading and networking time gains key information in this area.
6. Foundational Changes
There are three foundational changes needed for a 21st century director candidate:
- Develop the skills, routines, and tools to truly leverage your potential from social media.
- Create and champion your brand or value proposition—it must be grounded in tangible differences.
- Deeply understand the boards you have targeted and create insights that naturally engage those to whom you present yourself as a board candidate. Be thoughtful so that the assumptions you make are not ones locked in the past.
7. Breaking Through the Clutter
Once on a short list for a director seat, be on your “A” game. Ask the right questions before the interviewing process to help shape your contributions in the interviews. Be consistent and have a few themes or main points developed.
From what I’ve seen recently “personal branding” for want of a better phrase is not only growing in importance, but also covers a number of the points you raise above. Not only can this help to keep you “front of mind” but also to indicate to boards exactly what you stand for and what you will bring to the table.