Why should I join a board? Part One: Intentions
Joining a board seems to be de rigueur for anyone and everyone at the moment. There are plenty of positive reasons to join a board, and whilst I am extremely passionate about being on a board and contributing to the success of an organisation as a director, being a board member is not for everyone.
Understanding exactly what you are getting into as a director is important knowledge to arm yourself with when evaluating whether becoming a company director is a path you want to travel down.
Whatever reason, or reasons, you have for wanting to join a board, you must first FULLY recognise, understand, and accept the level of responsibility, accountability, commitment, and risk that comes with being a director.
Whatever reason, or reasons, you have for wanting to join a board, you must first FULLY recognise, understand, and accept the level of responsibility, accountability, commitment, and risk that comes with being a director. Then, and only then, can your reasons for wanting to become a company director drive your pursuit of board seats.
People pursue directorships for a handful of predominant purposes. These centre on career aspirations (e.g. developing a portfolio career, or supplementing your current career to position yourself for future promotion opportunities); philanthropic ambitions (e.g. wanting to contribute towards a cause that is close to their heart); and a desire to “give back” (either to the industry that they spent their career in, or to continued to utilise their expertise in a meaningful way).
It is likely that most board members have a combination of these three reasons. I’m not much different either…
Pursuing board roles was something that I have been doing since high school, albeit in a roundabout way. What I mean by that is during one of my final years of high school I discovered that my passion was business – how they run, how great leaders contribute to the business’ success, what businesses can achieve, the challenges businesses face – everything about business just got me excited. It was a true light bulb moment that I still vividly remember.
My point is that everything I did from that point was working towards positioning me as an ideal board candidate. I was actually had in my mind that board opportunities would present themselves about 10-15 years from now. Be careful what you wish for; I recently joined my fifth board and I’m only 30.
Clearly my core driver was my career aspiration to have a ‘job’ that allowed me to use my passion everyday and contribute to many organisations.
However, I also recognise that businesses should serve a greater purpose and they have an obligation to support the community(ies) in which they operate. It is for this reason that I made sure that the organisation did something that contributed to the world in a positive way before accepting the directorship.
As you can see, there a number of drivers that underpin people’s motivations to travel down the board path. I hope that sharing my story helps you define your reason, or reasons, for joining a board.
Rather than blindly following the board pack and feeling like you have to join a board, make sure you have authentic reasons and intentions that are driving your aspirations.
Know that it’s OK to not want to join a board. There are many other ways to deploy your skills and passions that can have just as positive impact on the world, with much less risk and responsibility.
What’s driving you to joining a board?