The pathway to the boardroom often seems to be unclear, reserved for a secret network, and inconsistent; and I am often asked “What should I be doing in my professional career that will help me with my board career”.
It’s a question that you have most likely wrestled with.
In today’s post I am sharing three things that you can do in your professional career that will help your board career.
Thankfully, you don’t have to wait until you’re looking to get on a board to start doing these. I believe that they will help your professional career progress as much as enhance your board career.
1. Develop your business acumen
Learn about the business of running a business. Where I see the professionals that I work with get stuck is a lack of awareness and understanding of their role in the larger context of the organisation; i.e. how does what they do every day help the organisation achieve its strategic and financial objectives.
I encourage anyone at any level of an organisation to work with their manager to better understand why their job matters and how it helps the organisation achieve it’s mission. Not only is this knowledge and awareness incredibly empowering, it helps to build business, strategic and financial acumen – three of the most important skills desired from board candidates.
Want to learn more: watch this TED talk on the career advice you probably didn’t get.
2. Build your network
Continually build your bridges.
The best investment into your professional and board careers is in your network. Building it. Nurturing it. Helping it.
Unequivocally, boards mostly recruit new board members from their networks.
This means that you have to build meaningful connections with everyone. Use all of those networking events, seminars, conferences, plane rides, meetings, lunches, functions, and projects to make meaningful connections and build your network. This is where the board opportunities will come from.
3. Proactively design and establish your credibility and reputation
How conscious are you of the reputation you are leaving behind? Every time you have a meeting, work on something, talk to people at work and beyond, or make a social media update you are reinforcing to others a certain ‘image’ or ‘picture’ of yourself.
What is the story it’s telling about you?
Are you being proactive and thoughtful about your ‘reputation wake’?
To start proactively designing your reputation, think about how you want to be remembered by people. What thoughts do you want them to have about you when you’re not there (in a professional sense, of course)? Do you want to be known as someone who is intelligent, thoughtful, hard-working, a team-player, consistent, considerate, and well-intentioned? Feel free to change these words with the adjective(s) you prefer.
Then, be conscious of consistently acting in a way that is congruent with and reinforces how you want to be known and what you want to be known for. This is where integrity starts and how integrity is built.
To further grow your credibility and reputation, take on opportunities to grow your skillset and ‘hone your craft’, stretch yourself, work on challenging projects, present to the board or at an event, sit on workplace committees, and understand the business of running your business (even if you’re not a manager / leader right now).
Be reliable. Be a team player. Be willing to learn. Be consistent. Be a leader at all times, at all levels. I guarantee all of these attributes will help your board career.
Becoming an attractive board candidate starts before you begin your board journey. The next best time is now.
Let me know in the comments, what will you be working on from the above options?
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