By Janice Burch, Executive Resume Writer, Career Coach, Co-Owner at Pro Resume Center, LLC
You’ve achieved status in your career as a leader, problem solver, action-taker, and growth expert. Whether your background is in finance, operations, systems, risk management, quality assurance, technology, marketing, communications, or human resources, you may have considered growing your professional brand by becoming a board member.
If this is on your radar — and you have what they are looking for — the time to take action may be now.
The Board Shuffle
According to a 2022 PwC annual survey, results of +700 boards of major public companies show that 50% of board members believe someone on their board has got to go, and 19% of those surveyed indicate two or more of their peer board members should be replaced.
Another key finding of the same study showed that a board’s perception of their company often does not match consumer perception. While 87% of business executives believe consumers highly trust their company, only 30% of consumers actually do. Trust is hard won and easily lost, and stakeholders are coming to expect more from companies. This lands at the feet of the board of directors as the stewards of the company, according to PwC survey insights.
If you can bring a fresh perspective and clarity to a board regarding a company's reputation – and how to improve it – this could be one of your major selling points during the application process, coupled with your years of success in a leadership role.
But transformation comes with challenges. Sometimes in adverse environments, change can initially be rejected by veteran management and a workforce that has clocked in the year with the company.
Given this, how influential would you be in driving change if selected for a board role?
Challenging the status quo
A common concern among board members surveyed who believe peer board members should be replaced centers on what they believe is an inability of those board members to challenge management and the status quo.
Are you confident in your abilities to stand up to a long-time board member, company president, or SVP of Operations when they say – “but that’s how we’ve always done it here?”
If you can challenge the status quo – and do so with diplomacy and understanding – then you may be a great fit for a board.
Do you play well with others?
Are you a collaborator? Can you act as part of a governing team of equals where healthy debate and mutual respect reign, even amidst potential discourse, challenges, and eminent crises?
The boardroom is a place where there must be mutual trust and consideration of other’s opinions, as the perspective of each member is vital to the health of the organization – and the board. Puffed-up egos and poor collaboration on a board can easily turn into poor board performance. Where poor collaboration exists, it most definitely impacts an organization’s overall strategic planning and advancement, and its ability to improve market share and returns for investors and stakeholders.
If you can provide a compelling argument to a board hiring team and the board, showcasing:
1) Years of successful leadership in an executive role
2) Ability to offer a fresh perspective
3) Experience challenging the status quo with diplomacy, data and vision
4) Excellent collaboration skills
Then you may have what it takes.
What else do you need to be able to show?
Breach, Risk, Reputation and Crisis Experience
Some of the most pressing issues facing today’s companies – security breaches, regulatory compliance, reputational risk and crisis management are some of the top concerns addressed by today’s executive boards.
If your leadership experiences stem from managing technology and security threats for large organizations, you might be highly desired by a large organization where cybersecurity threats are a common occurrence.
A company acts as a steward of consumer’s private data. People give up lots of private information to companies in purchasing, reserving, signing up, or contracting for services or memberships. Not one company is safe from cybercrime, and this cost companies a pretty penny last year. According to the FBI 2022 Internet Crime Report, the FBI received 800,000 cybercrime-related complaints in 2022 with losses totaling +$10B. If you can help a company navigate these murky waters to make forward-thinking decisions to protect data, you might be a good addition to a board.
If you understand how to navigate corporate reputation with finesse in today’s competitive and highly charged society, you may be a good fit as well. As Benjamin Franklin said: “It takes many good deeds to build a good reputation. It only takes one bad one to lose it.” Being able to completely understand the risks a company faces with its reputation and build effective strategies to mitigate those risks is an important skill for board members to possess.
Be sure to highlight your experience in risk, reputation, and crisis management as part of your value offerings when applying to board positions.
OTHER TOP EXPERIENCE TO SHOWCASE WHEN APPLYING FOR A BOARD ROLE
As an executive leader, be sure you capture the below information in your board resume, and pitch letter, as it applies to the company’s niche industry:
Function – Role: What specific functional value do you have to offer the organization? Figure out how to position your career experience to the board to see the value you can bring to the company.
Strategic Planning: Have you developed strategic plans, from vision to execution? Have you built business models and understand how strategy implementation impacts operations to maintain business continuity?
Financial experience: Have you managed a P&L? How big? Did you oversee assets, investments, and cash flow? If applying for a board position with a public company, do you understand shareholder relations?
Relationship-building: Have you developed successful strategic and valuable partnerships throughout your career? Do you know how to identify and secure partners – channel, resources, non-competitive business partnerships, media or distributors?
Cultural: Did you drive any cultural transformations? Did you help design plans to improve workforce engagement and performance that resulted in retaining top talent, performance and productivity? Did you pilot a new mindset across an organization – more customer-centric or client solution-driven?
There are thousands of board opportunities out there — the bottom line is:
- Where do you want to make an impact (kind of company – public, private, nonprofit)
- How do you think you can make an impact (your leadership background)
- Why do you want to be on their board? Be sure to let them know what it is about their organization that you are drawn to and respect while letting them know the value you offer the board and company.
Be strategic, be concise, and don’t get all humble on me.
Applying to a board, like applying for a new role, is when you need to be able to articulate the value you can bring based on the work experience and success you have delivered.
Be proud – get your stories and project background tightened up, and happy hunting!
If you need help identifying the key offerings you have to apply to a board and building the tools you need to make it happen – get in touch with us at (800) 603-6623 to discuss how we can help.