How to Set a Board Goal

The first step on any journey involves setting a destination. Your board journey is no different.

Why do you need to set a board goal though? Won’t it cut off potential board opportunities? I don’t believe so. What you want to strive for is a board search strategy that makes sense for you, and that is efficient and effective (because it takes a lot of intentional work to secure a board seat).

Let’s explore why it helps you to set a board goal before we get into the ‘how’…

Why set a board goal

Whilst it may seem frustrating and limiting, taking the time to set a board goal is going to save you time, energy, frustration, and disappointment in the future.

Setting a board goal will create a focus for your board search strategy, tactics, and activities. It will save you from taking a scattered approach where you chase every opportunity (even the ones you don’t like or aren’t suitable for).

In turn, it’s going to help your network to help you. Telling people that “you’re interested in getting a board role” is not the most effective way of making progress on your board goals. There’s a much better way and I write more about it here, here, and here.

Taking time to think through and set a board goal is going to force you to consider where you want to take your board career, help you to articulate your Unique Value Proposition, and help you to check-in on your expectations about the type of board(s) you’re attractive to (you may have too high or too low expectations about where you want to be).

How to set a board goal

There are three simple ways to set a board goal:

• Intersection approach: this is the overlap of your expertise, interest, and opportunity. For example, you may be a marketing expert who is interested in contributing to a not-for-profit in the childhood education space (who needs marketing expertise on their board).
• Organisation-Centred approach: this is driven by the type of organisation and / or the organisation’s phase or stage of business cycle, and selecting which of these you believe that you can add the most value. For example, because your expertise is in optimising workplace systems, you may have the goal of wanting to join the board of an organisation that has a strategic imperative to adopt and leverage technology to improve productivity across their organisation; for example, an SME engineering consultancy with an annual turnover of about $15M.
• Peg it to your long-term board goal(s) and reverse engineer it from there. Whatever your long-term board goal may be, you can research the board careers of people who are on that particular board (or similar boards) and plot out your own board career steppingstones from there. Do this in conjunction with the two above approaches and you will have an intentional and supercharged board search strategy.

Once you have your board goal, it may help to find a couple of example organisations that can serve as a guide to you and your network.

Whichever way you choose, I advocate that you (1) have a strong interest in the organisation and what its purpose / mission is; and (2) that you fully commit to each and every board role you take on for AT LEAST one or two terms (constant board hopping is not going to do anyone any favours, particularly your board reputation).

Setting a board goal is a vital first step on your board journey. It will help you to better see what the best next step is for you to take and, most importantly, help your network to help you.

What is your board goal? 

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