Regardless of whether you are an experienced independent director or an emerging director considering a career in governance, much like an executive role, there are many factors to consider before accepting a position on a board. With Decipher Group’s combined years of experience in governance recruitment, here’s our take on some essential questions you should ask yourself before you commit.
Why are you doing it?
Seems simple, right? However, it is surprising how many people don’t take the time to consider this question. Joining a board is a significant commitment both in terms of the value you contribute to the organisation, and your own time. Your motivation should be linked to the impact you can make, and this applies for all types of boards including non-profit and corporate. Are you genuinely joining a board to help further their cause? Don’t let the professional or social recognition of being invited to join a board cloud your judgement, and don’t waste your time on work you don’t enjoy.
Are you the right fit?
Whether you are aware of a role vacancy, or a board has reached out to gauge your interest in joining, it is important to objectively assess whether you are the right person for the role. What is it that attracts you to this particular opportunity, based on your experience and knowledge, or conversely, why are you being asked to join? Whatever that combination of skills/competencies or background are, you need to be certain that you are ok with the board leveraging that capability. Being clear about your own personal brand – your unique narrative and the value you contribute – is a good place to start.
Do you share values and purpose?
Following on from above, do you have an alignment with the organisation’s (and shareholders) vision for the future and strategy to achieve this, the core-values and what the company represents (both in business and the wider community)? You’ll contribute very little to a board if you don’t truly believe in a company’s mission. Ask yourself, are you excited to have your name sit alongside the organisation?
Double down on due dilligence
It may seem obvious that you would complete your own due diligence before committing to a board placement but in some respects, you need to delve even deeper than you would for a typical career move. This means going beyond checking the financial health of an organisation and gaining real insight into what challenges and opportunities are on the horizon.
While the culture of an organisation is always a key consideration, on a board this is a critical factor in the success or failure of director placements. Find out how the board operates as a group, what are the dynamics around the table, understand the approach of the chair, how does the board interact with the CEO and executive leadership? If possible, speak with current or previous directors (or the CEO), read recent board minutes or attend a board meeting as a trial.
Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is a complex topic for businesses – a board’s leadership, support and oversight on DE&I matters. As mentioned earlier, when joining a board, it is important to have a clear picture on who will be joining you around the boardroom table. These are people that you need to be able to respect and envision yourself collaborating with, even if that includes constructive and lively debate. If you are likely to be in the minority on a board – for whatever reason – are you confident that the board in general will provide you with that same level of respect and inclusion?
While different boards have different expectations, in general, the commitment required of a director is significant and the obligations are considerable. Like any career decision, you need to do your homework, both in terms of researching the opportunity and giving it serious thought and reflection. Make a deliberate decision, and then it will be a more rewarding and satisfying experience.
Decipher Group has a proven track record of sourcing chairs, non-executive directors, and advisory board members for a range of organisations. If you need advice and guidance on your next career move, let’s talk.
The Decipher Team
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