Parts 1 and 2 of this series revealed some of the changes that boards are facing in today’s world of business, as well as what they are looking for in possible candidates to fill board positions. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.
These points may help you decide if pursuing a board position is right for you at this time in your career.
How do you evaluate whether you are a good candidate for a board of director position?
Be realistic and honest about where you’ve been successful, scale and scope of roles you’ve had, and how that would be distinctive in the boardroom. You have to shoot to hit the target that aligns best with your executive experience and expertise. Ask yourself, “How would I make a difference on this board?” It is all about what you have done—highlighting board experience or experience that is valuable to working on a board.
Be prepared to travel if you are seeking a position on a board. There are 4 to 8 meetings a year and not always located in your hometown. In addition, if you volunteer for a committee, they are typically conducted by teleconferencing – sometimes requiring phone calls at all hours to meet with people in Asia and other parts of the country. Most people on an international board only apply if they have a reason to be in that country. Some boards may ask for up to a 10-year commitment. Are you prepared to make that commitment?
Compensation and Incentives
The compensation for a board position can be minimal to very lucrative, depending on the organization and country. Some boards pay for conference calls, meetings, expenses to travel to meetings, incentives, etc. For some, this can add up to $300,000 per year. Some organizations provide additional incentives if their board is looking for an executive with specific talents that meet the needs and challenges They face.
For public boards, the level of rigor and intensity in the competition for the board seats is different. Today most public company boards base hiring a director on the process and difficulties of the board seat—very similar to a CEO hire. If you are a candidate think of it as similar to a CEO process.
How do you find a board position?
Network with other executives, board members, and executive search firms to get your name out there and connect with the people who are making decisions for the boards. Be aware that there are thousands of companies that do not use executive search firms to find candidates.
Dos and don’ts to reach out to recruiters:
Effective approach—“Based on this part of my background, I’m well suited for this type of company.”
Ineffective approach—“I would be interested in anything, maybe retail or airlines.”
Give real thought to things you have done that are relevant to what a board does and thinks about—stages of development or other issues boards deal with. Have an honest conversation with yourself about what your background lends itself to and where your skills are well suited.
Whether you are seriously looking for a position on a board of directors or other executive roles, this 3-part series should help you understand the changes and hiring process that boards are now using, and how that impacts you as an executive, CEO, or board candidate.