You have reached a level in your career that makes you “board ready.” You know that you can add value in the boardroom. You see specific opportunities to use your expertise to help solve problems on a board. While you don’t have the title yet, you are ready to own the leadership required to move from ideas to action and gain a board seat. This is a board candidate’s self-appointed leadership position.
Some, if not most, of the board candidates reading this article will come to the director interview from a position of self-appointing. To self-appoint to the highest executive position in the corporate world takes a deep sense of confidence. Most future directors do not have a CEO come to them and suggest that their career trajectory should include a public company board seat. Many professionals that desire a seat at the board table are self-appointed, and often times this is a self-directed goal.
If you are considering a public company board seat, you have achieved a standard of excellence in your work. You most probably had to sacrifice and create a high level of visibility for yourself to achieve your goals. Your commitment to a relentless focus on small incremental steps that move toward superior performance have paid off. Today you are consciously and continuously identifying your expertise to build and create learning opportunities for yourself beyond those offered by employers as standard training — you are directing your own advancement.
If you are in the position of self-appointing, your track record of going beyond ordinary effort — putting in extra time, taking personal responsibility for professional growth and making leadership development part of your everyday work — will pay off in the boardroom and all the actions required in order to gain a board seat. As you continue to take steps that will increase your readiness, here are a few tips to help you on your journey:
High-level executives continually broaden their experience, and board work can be a dynamic part of a thoughtful career plan. That said, self-directed career leadership requires a significant amount of initiative on the part of the individual, so be careful to build momentum and not let the setbacks diminish your enthusiasm.
Takeaway: There are many candidates vying for a few seats. Be clear — to accomplish the goal of gaining a board seat, the buck starts and ends with you.
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Tracy E. Houston, M.A. is the President of Board Resources Services, LLC. She is a refined specialist in board consulting and executive coaching with a heartfelt passion for rethinking performance, teams and the boardroom. She provides a highly successful executive coaching engagement to help candidates gain a public company board seat. Her Board Guru™ e-book series for board members and board candidates can be seen here. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follower her on Twitter: @BoardGuru.