Obtaining a corporate boardroom seat is no small feat. It requires work excellence, shrewd planning, visibility management, the ability to outwork the competition, and a little bit of good fortune. It is a process that takes years of hard work and patience to achieve. Use the tips below to aid you in making 2015 your time to shine and to reach the exulted status of a corporate board seat.
Get in the Boardroom in 2015!
Natural Law of Order
It typically takes more than expertise to reach boardroom status. Fair or not, what one has an expertise in matters within particular industries and organisations, certain departments and previous specialties are given preferential treatment in the awarding of executive positions. Even the public sector has such tendencies. This is exemplified by the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation normally having a background in criminal investigations as opposed to a background in counterintelligence or support operations. In the United States Air Force too there is a greater tendency for former fighter pilots to achieve promotions to flag officer posts, the military’s equivalent to boardroom status, even though fighter pilot programs account for a miniscule proportion of the total workforce within the service.
Take the time to learn the true ins-and-outs of your organisation. Determine which departments have the typical edge on promotions and attempt to transfer into these sections if possible. The best background for most boards tends to be one with a financial background; such expertise lends itself to being available to sit on the audit committee and similar functions performed by boards. One of the trendier areas of specialty at this time though is in social media expertise. New boardroom candidates with such skills are in demand due to the relative lack of knowledge regarding this growing sector by other board members; having individuals with this background provides the entire board with a better view of the organisation’s health and public perceptions.
Have you considered becoming a Non-Executive Director for a company and building up your career portfolio? By taking on one or two remunerated Non-Executive Director positions you would not only be increasing your salary but you would also develop your proficiencies, career experiences and credibility. Find out more about becoming a Non-Executive Director by reading our article.
Develop a Reputation
Visibility is crucial for movement up the corporate ladder. One must manage the image they give off, and ensure that others take note. This starts with simple steps such as how you present yourself in the office. Spend a little extra to spruce up your clothing and footwear options; perhaps change your hair style or personal grooming to reflect your ambition and match boardroom norms.
Visibility also extends to ensuring that interested corporate firms can find you. Put yourself out on display for others to become aware of and intrigued by what you can provide in prospective opportunities. Attend events held by groups such as the National Association of Corporate Directors or the Commonwealth Business Council. Engaging in this more social functions will also better acclimatise individuals for future duties when they do achieve their board membership.
When looking for a job your CV is the most important document to reflect your expertise towards the type of role that you’re looking for.
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Previous board experience is always a helpful asset in hoping to achieve the boardroom status you desire. Rather than waiting for the one you truly have your eyes set on, seek out experience on other boards in the meantime. It is typically easier to obtain board membership within a non-public entity, thereby enabling corporate board candidates to pad their credentials for the years to come. Nonprofit group boards serve as a great starting point for future corporate board service. Try to seek out a seat on the Board of Trustees with pecuniary responsibility, rather than serving on an advisory board, if possible. Start-up or private company boards can also be used as a strong starting point. Make sure that such roles do not interfere with one’s corporate management responsibilities, and potential candidates will demonstrate their leadership.
Set yourself the right goals and you can achieve boardroom status. Prepare yourself and reflect the status within which you would like to be received. Set yourself deadlines of achievements and if you don’t achieve them, analyse the reason why and revisit them. Your hard work will pay off and you too can achieve that seat in the board room.
Make sure you’re ready to to take your career to CEO level and succeed. Sign up to the CI Executive Career Management programme and get access to a Career Coach to guide and coach you through your journey to board level. Also don’t forget to keep a lookout for the top roles that become available in emerging markets.
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