When you think about being a director on a board, does the image of the Monopoly mascot, Rich Uncle Pennybags, come to mind? Perhaps being on a board seems like an unattainable goal reserved for only the most seasoned and established of leaders.
It might seem somewhat surprising, but it isn’t difficult to get yourself board ready. The road ahead just involves some planning, research, networking and determination.
Given I just moderated a panel discussion for the Toronto Chapter of Ellevate specific to Women on Boards and interviewed four highly regarded women including Johanne Belanger, Colleen Moorehead, Debbie Baxter and Christine McGirr, I thought it timely to share some insights gained from the experience.
While we discussed the lack of diversity specific to women on boards, the issue of being board ready extends to anyone who has an interest in pursuing this goal.
A board is composed of a group of people who oversee the operations and business decisions of a company, nonprofit organization, or a government agency. Boards often have several committees that deal with specific decision-making processes including audit, finance, governance, social media, and compensation.
Consider your intrinsic motivation — the underlying reason you want to be on a board. The commitment can be 20-30 days per year plus a few travel days, depending on the type of board you’re on. If you’re already a person with a number of commitments, this may be a key deciding factor. Are you interested in making the world a better place, holding corporations and their leadership team accountable or sharing your expertise and knowledge to advance an organization’s mission? Whatever the reason — be clear about your why before you dive into the how.
There are several organizations that offer board of director training and certifications — some are even free. I’ve included a handful of resources to consider:
Here are Top 10 questions to ask before joining a board (source: CPA Australia)
After all is said and done, it comes down to doing your homework. You don’t want to have any regrets about realizing too late that you’ve joined the wrong board. All of your questions should be answered as part of the board member selection process. Take your time, research and network to enter the arena with your eyes wide open and to ensure you’re throwing your top hat in the right ring.