Congratulations on your successful board interview and being offered your new role. The process, however, is not over yet. There are several factors you need to consider before saying yes. Then, it is crucial that you leverage this opportunity to gain further board appointments.
A ‘Yes’ does not mean you should accept the board role
First, you should know that just because you have had a successful board interview and been offered the role does not mean you are obliged to take it. The role of board director is to lead the company into a place of growth and progress – it is essential that you understand what that journey looks like to make your best decision on whether or not joining this team would indeed be right for you.
Your previous board research and the board interview itself may have you questioning if this board role is a good fit for you. Before accepting the role, you should be asking yourself:
- Do the risks outweigh the rewards?
- What would be the consequences to your reputation, finances, or career should something go wrong?
- Will the time required of you come at the expense of your executive career or family commitments?
- Is the governance of the organisation what you believe it should be?
- Is the culture of the board a good fit and an environment that you will feel comfortable in?
- Does the board follow a formal or informal process to resolve differences?
- Will the board appointment support your future board career? Several studies suggest that the initial board appointment may be indicative of the final board appointment obtained.
- Will this board appointment provide an opportunity to develop your governance experience and skills?
- Are you passionate about the role and the organisation? If not, it is unlikely you will perform to the best of your ability or see out the full tenure. This could negatively affect consolidating and advancing your board and executive careers.
Conducting thorough due diligence will help you answer some of these questions. How to do this I will discuss this in detail in my next article.
Identify and address any conflicts of interest
Impending board members should carefully evaluate potential conflicts of interest before accepting the role. In order to serve the organisation in a professional and ethical way, it is important to be aware of any potential conflicts of interest that may arise due to one’s association with current or past employers, financial obligations, and other limitations.
If you identify any conflicts of interest, you must have an open discussion with the chair prior to accepting the role.
Leverage your success board interview to create your next board opportunity
Regardless of whether you decide to accept the role or not, your successful board interview can be leveraged in such a way as to create new, and perhaps more suitable, board opportunities.
Remember that 50% of boards recruited new board members in the last 12 months. You are in a terrific position to access these new and often hidden board opportunities by circling back to those you have had conversations with along the way.
Here is why:
- In the first instance, it could have been months since you last spoke with them during your board research. As such, things could have changed both in terms of how you might be able to help and the tenure of boards they sit on;
- You have just been offered a role which means that an organisation has independently verified your value at board level. That alone is worth bragging about;
With your reputation now more secure, you are more likely to be recommended to others;
- Finally, it is simply a nice thing to do – thanking people for their help and letting them know that they were part of your success.
Reconnecting allows you to nurture the relationship you established and keeps you in the loop about future or current board opportunities.
However, you can take this one step further…
The offer of a new appointment provides an opportunity to create new relationships and weak ties. Imagine all the people connected with the organisation you are going to sit on the board of – the non-executive directors of the stakeholder and client organisations, and of course, your new peers – the existing board members. Leverage your board interview success by reaching out to them, Introducing yourself, and being curious about what they are doing.
It is easy to do, it is appreciated, and it works
Contact them by email or phone, or suggest meeting for coffee. Meeting face-to-face is more powerful and shows genuine appreciation. It may take more time and effort, but it develops the relationship better than just a phone call.
65% of board roles are filled through a personal connection, and 80% through informal application processes. The challenge here is developing relationships in an authentic and legitimate fashion. Reconnecting with those who helped you gain the appointment, and making new board-level connections to those associated with the new organisation, is easy and powerful. More importantly, it is rarely done, so it has the added benefit of making you memorable.
The board interview process can be a long and arduous one, so a successful board interview outcome is certainly worth celebrating. When considering whether or not to accept the role, it is important to evaluate many things, including the risks & rewards, the cultural fit and any potential conflicts of interest. It is also important to take advantage of your board interview success by reconnecting with those who have helped you and reaching out to new contacts associated with the organisation you are joining. Doing so not only strengthens existing relationships but can also create new board opportunities that may suit you better.
About the Author
David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Direction – Australia’s leading board advertising and non-executive career support firm. He has over a decade of experience of putting people on boards as an international headhunter and a non-executive recruiter and has interviewed over one thousand non-executives and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP roles in the world
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