Answer these questions for a quick self-assessment of your general readiness to be a corporate board member.
What are your skills, experience, and availability?
- Do you have a minimum of 10-15 years of recent experience in a senior leadership or executive role? At least 5 years in a C-level position in mid-market company or SVP or GM role in a large enterprise. If you are a consultant now, do you have interaction with the board and CEO or C-level, and have you had operational experience prior?
- Have you had direct P/L responsibility of significant size?
- Will your schedule allow at least 40-60 hours per quarter to devote to your board work? Average Fortune 500 boards are 350+ hours per year and more for companies facing a crisis.
- Are you generally knowledgeable about the fiduciary requirements and role of a board member?
- Do you have a good understanding of financial statements?
- Can you provide at least two recommendations from senior executives or board members supporting your candidacy for a board position?
- Will your background check be clear of any concerns for the company?
- If you have been out of a management position for more than 2 years, have you kept current on issues related to your fields of expertise?
- Are you in this for something other than the “money”?
- If not self-employed, will you have the support of your own board of directors and/or your management to serve on a board?
- Do you have board/governance experience? If not director on a board, have you presented to or advised corporate boards of directors?
- Are you willing to “put in the work” to design a strategy to seek a board seat, which includes a significant commitment to a process that can seem like a marathon and take from 1-5 years?
Boards often look for specific skill sets in their searches. So you may get bonus points if you answer “Yes” on these questions:
- Can you be designated a Financial Expert?
- Do you have experience in areas that are especially important in our changing world such as risk management, international markets, M&A, social media, big data, digital transformation, ESG, etc.?
- Do you have significant leadership experience in revenue growth, scaling or digital transformation?
- Have you served on a board or do you have experience in a corporate boardroom? (Non-profit boards included, however, corporate board experience is more likely to get you in the door.)
What kind of approach will you display as a board member:
- Do you like to ask deep, thoughtful questions about assumptions for business decisions?
- Are you comfortable with playing the director oversight role vs management role?
- Do you look for innovative ways to approach issues?
- Can you, and do you, question the conventional wisdom?
- Is strategic thinking a part of your business DNA?
- Are you a proven team player with an understanding that the dynamics of a board is one of the most important parts of good governance?
A high number of “Yes” means you’re ready to begin your board journey.
If you answered “No” or “Unsure” to a number of these questions, you have some work to do to before you are eligible for referral to board nominating committees.
Depending upon the depth of your experience in business, or a specific skill currently needed by a board, you may also be best as a candidate for advisory boards with no fiduciary responsibility.