Many people want to keep climbing the career ladder and some want to get to the point where they become an executive director and board member. For most people this is the biggest and most challenging step they take in their career. Transitioning to the post is important, so what are my five top tips?
Tip 1: Review your skill set
Being a board member is a very different role from any other role that you have done before. Your influence is much greater and your responsibilities are much greater. You need to become competent in many areas of business that might be alien to you. When I was a board director at a hospital, I was the expert in finance but I also had to understand a whole range of clinical areas, operational aspects of running a hospital and human resources to name just a few. It will be no different for you, so take some time to review your skill set.
Tip 2: Understand board dynamics
In most situations the board will already exist before you join. There will already be some established norms in terms of behaviours, protocols, ways of working, etc. In your first few meetings, make a point of listening and observing these dynamics so that you can effectively integrate into the board.
Tip 3: Get a mentor
There will be challenges that you face and times where you will feel stuck. It is often difficult to go to your boss with these challenges or problems, especially in the early days so it useful to have someone you can go to for help in these early days. It might be a mentor or a coach or even an extended network in your own professional discipline.
Tip 4: Get clear on your responsibilities
As a director you also have a number of legal and governance responsibilities. Make time to find out what these responsibilities are in the country in which your business operates or is registered. Find out if there are any courses that you can attend and make the time to attend them.
Tip 5: Commit to being a team player
A board is generally focusing on a common challenge of delivering results for shareholders or other stakeholders. Individually you can make a valuable contribution to delivering the results. Collectively you can deliver even better results, so make a commitment being a team player and creating successful teams.
Bottom line – Transitioning to a board level post is probably your biggest career challenge to date, so make sure you recognise this and set your self up for success.
By Dominic Mccarthy