Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Joining a Board
The opportunity to join a board is an exciting one. As a board member, you have a chance to make an impact outside of your organization, connect with other leaders and build your experience and resume. Though it’s important to recognize the commitment that comes with the opportunity to join a board.
In this article, we’re sharing a scorecard for you to work through before making the final decision to join a board. Ask yourself the following five questions and answer honestly to ensure that you’re making a decision to join the board of the right organization, at the right time.
1. Can I meet the overall time commitment?
Every board position requires a commitment of time, though some require more than others. When evaluating a board, consider how frequently throughout the month they meet and whether or not their meeting rhythm fits with your availability.
While this may seem obvious, it’s important to recognize that any time commitment to a board is time away from your own organization. Gaining clarity and alignment is critical if you’re going to make an impact. Do your due diligence to better understand what it is they are looking to gain from you by having you on their board, as well as how much time you realistically have to give.
2. Am I aligned with the vision, values and strategy of the organization?
If you’re going to make a significant impact as a board member, it’s important that you:
- Are excited about what you’re building,
- Share the values of the other board members and organization’s employees,
- And believe that the organization has a strategy to win.
When you’re aligned with the vision, values and strategy of the organization, you’ll be more motivated to consistently show up and give your best.
3. What value can I bring?
Of course, we all want to add value and make a difference in everything we do. One of the most important things when joining a board is gaining clarity on the distinct value you bring both to the board and the organization. Some examples include:
- Strategic thought processes
- An expertise in building culture
- A unique ability to develop leaders
- Experience with mergers and acquisitions
- Financial or legal expertise
By getting clear on where and how you’ll contribute to the board, you’ll have a more positive experience knowing the unique value you’ll bring to the organization.
4. Do I believe in the organization’s leadership team, including other board members?
Given the previous discussion of time investment, believing in the organization’s leadership team and their ability to drive success will go a long way in ensuring your satisfaction as a board position.
If you don’t believe in or enjoy spending time with members of the leadership team, you likely won’t put in the time and dedication it takes to add value to the organization. Take the time upfront to familiarize yourself with the leadership team to get a better understanding of who they are and their dynamics. Otherwise, working with a team that you don’t believe in will leave you doing the required minimum, but not much more.
5. Do I have a personal interest in the organization and its mission?
By this point, maybe you’ve checked all of the other boxes: you have the time, you’re aligned with the direction of the organization, you know you can bring value to the board and you believe in the organization’s leadership.
It always pays to do a gut check with yourself and make sure you have a personal interest in the organization, its industry and its mission.
Remember, this is a role you’re taking on in addition to your day-to-day work. You’ll enjoy your position as a board member and feel more fulfilled if you have a personal interest in the organization’s industry, mission or customer segment. That personal interest will push you to work harder, commit your time and ultimately add value to the organization. Two examples of this include:
- A strong passion for animal welfare may bring you to join the board of an animal shelter or animal rights organization.
- A passion for banking or investing may lead you to joining the board of a bank or other financial institution.
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At Mahoney Performance Institute, we empower leaders at every level to reach and exceed their goals in their organization and in life. Through our Peer Group and coaching services, we work with and provide guidance to senior managers, C-suite executives, CEOs and business owners so they feel more confident making important decisions, such as how and when to join a board.
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