Six New Year Goals for New and Aspiring Board Members
It’s that time of year again when we begin to reflect on the year that was and cast our minds forward to the new year and on setting new goals to get us excited and inspired.
I always enjoy going through this process. There’s something about sunny weather and an impending new year that gets me excited. Maybe it’s the chance to start afresh and set up new systems to make sure I achieve what I want to achieve.
Today I’m sharing some ideas of some activities that new and aspiring company directors and board members can do over December and January in relation to their board career and director role. This time of year is perfect as it is likely that your board will not meet during the summer break and gives you plenty of chances to rest, rejuvenate, and think about the future.
If you’re a New Director / New Board Member
1. Set up a personal development plan
If you’re new to a board, you may have started to become aware of your strengths and weaknesses as a board member. These could be anything from how you work in the team, to areas of the business that you struggle to understand, to being more articulate when getting your point across.
Whatever it is that you’ve identified that you’re good at or could use some development in, consider setting a plan that works towards making you stronger in your strength areas and improving in your development areas.
This could involve undertaking formal education or informal education (for example, reading books and/or reputable blogs, or listening to podcasts). You may want to consider incorporating other learning mechanisms into your personal development plan such as mentors, peer support groups (formal or informal), or being involved in sub-committees that will broaden your knowledge of your area for improvement (I did this to build my financial acumen and believe it’s a fantastic source for hands-on learning).
2. Build relationships with your fellow board members
Having great relationships with your fellow board members makes life in the boardroom so much more pleasant, fun, and effective.
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone; however, having a rapport that has been developed and a relationship that’s consistently nurtured away from the boardroom is something worth striving for (there’s a reason that team-building activities are used in professional settings).
Consider setting yourself a plan of catching up one-to-one with each board member every three or six months. A simple cup of coffee or drink after work can do wonders. Try and keep the conversation beyond work as much as possible. However, it may be worthwhile to hear their thinking around board issues away from the board group and in an informal setting, so don’t be militant about keeping a “no shop talk” rule.
3. Set a future board goal
If this is the beginning of what you hope to be a long and successful board career, consider taking the time to set yourself a future board goal. Where would you like to be in 5, 10, 15, or 20 years?
This goal will help you to make decisions around the board roles you take on now and over the coming years, the committees you get involved with, and the board conversations and decisions you actively participate and engage in. For example, let’s say I have the goal of joining a Fortune 500 board by 2026. This would have me thinking about what I can do now, personally and professionally, in relation to achieving that goal by that point in time.
If you’re an Aspiring Company Director / Board Member
1. Set yourself a plan to get on a board
If you have already decided that you would like to join a board next year, then you’re off to a great start! The next step is to build yourself a personal plan on how to get a board seat.
This post here will help you with a process to follow, and if you’re after a more detailed, step-by-step approach (with personal support) our Break into the Boardroom online course helps you do just that and set a pathway to the boardroom.
2. Start thinking like a board member
“Strategic thinking” is the ability to think into the future, have a long-term focus, be curious, willing to take risks, and prioritise, be nimble and creative in your approach to challenges, and be a life-long learner. This style of thinking is mandatory for the boardroom.
Strategic thinking is something that you can start doing now in your professional career. Check out this post from Harvard that gives you some methods to improve your strategic thinking.
3. Use end-of-year events to network for a board position
The plethora of events that fill our calendars throughout the end of financial year and the end of the calendar year provide you with heaps of opportunities to meet new people and catch up with past and present friends and colleagues.
You should take that opportunity to share that you are looking to join a board next year. Boards still actively recruit from personal and professional networks, making it something that you should appropriately take advantage of. For tips on how to network for a board position, check out this post here.
I hope you take this time of year as an opportunity to reflect on your board career and set some board-related goals. As with any break, be sure to take time to rest and reset. Adequate recovery will help you to think and perform better in any role.