Career Coach: Is Board Service Right for You?

Board Service Associations Now January/February 2018 Issue By: Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE

If you’re on the fence as to whether you’d like to take a seat at the table, ask yourself these four questions before saying “yes.”

Serving on an organization’s board can be a great career move. It establishes your leadership credentials, connects you with other leaders in your field, and challenges you to do new kinds of work. But before you join a board, it’s important to understand why you’re doing it.

Your reasons for stepping into leadership affect your impact on the overall board dynamic, your own performance, the quality of your partnership with fellow board members and the CEO, and the resulting success of intended outcomes.

Before you say, “yes” to that board position, consider these four questions:

When you are asked for input, are you ready to do some of your own study, engage with critical partners, and understand what is coming?

Are you personally willing to let go of the past, be a champion of sometimes hard but necessary change, and have the backs of those who are the public face of the strategy?

Do you really have the time to fully embrace the role, recognizing that you may have much to learn about governance, may need to spend considerable time becoming a master of the issues, and may have to practice not behaving as you do within your own organization when functioning as a board member?

Is this role a priority for you, and if so, what behaviors will you demonstrate that will have others notice your dedication?

While board members who seek power, personal position, brand affiliation for their companies, or resume fillers may be able to make substantial contributions, those who recognize that their primary role is to be their organizations’ custodians of the future are the leadership gems.

Before you say “yes” to the privilege of board leadership, know why you are doing so and how your motivations will affect the organization you seek to influence.

Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE

Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE is the founder, president, and CEO of The Leaders’ Haven and a career and executive coach.