Are You Board Ready? Take our Self-Assessment

Answer these questions for a quick self-assessment of your general readiness to be a corporate board member.Are You Board Ready?

What are your skills, experience, and availability?

  1. Do you have a minimum of 10-15 years of recent experience in a senior leadership or executive role? At least 5 years in a C-level position in mid-market company or SVP or GM role in a large enterprise.
  2. Can you clearly state the value of your specific experiences that will translate into board value?
  3. Can you provide specific results of your accomplishments?
  4. If you are a consultant now, do you have interaction with the board and CEO or C-level, and have you had operational experience prior?
  5. Have you had direct P/L responsibility of significant size? If a P/L  wasn’t your role,  can you show how your areas of responsibility contributed to the financial success of a company?
  6. Will your schedule allow at least 40-60 hours per quarter to devote to your board work? Average Fortune 500 boards are 350+ hours per year and more for companies facing a crisis.
  7. Are you generally knowledgeable about the fiduciary requirements and role of a board member?
  8. Do you have a good understanding of financial statements?
  9. Will your background check be clear of any concerns for the company?
  10. If you have been out of a management position for more than 2 years, have you kept current on issues related to your fields of expertise?
  11. Are you in this for something other than the “money”?
  12. If not self-employed, will you have the support of your own board of directors and/or your management to serve on a board?
  13. Have you served on a board or do you have experience in a corporate boardroom? (Non-profit boards included, however, corporate board experience is more likely to get you in the door.)
  14. Are you willing to “put in the work” to design a strategy to seek a board seat, which includes a significant commitment to a process that can seem like a marathon and take from 1-5 years?
Boards often look for specific skill sets in their searches. So you may get bonus points if you answer  “Yes” on these questions:
  1. Is your expertise in an area that is currently a ‘hot topic” for companies being scrutinized by regulators, investors, and the press such as the economy (i.e. high interest rates), a disruption (i.e Covid), an innovation (i.e. AI), a newer risk (i.e. Cyber).
  2. Can you be designated a Financial Expert in order to serve as Audit Committee Chair?
  3. Do you have experience in areas that are especially important in our changing world such as risk management, international markets, M&A, social media, big data, digital transformation, ESG, etc.?
  4. Do you have significant leadership experience in revenue growth, scaling or digital transformation?

What kind of network do you have?

  1. Do you have a network that includes corporate board members, CEOs or others who have connections to boards?
  2. If you are considering a private equity backed company, do you have contacts in this eco system?
  3. Do you have a reputation as a thought leader in an industry, product line or business?
  4. Can you provide at least two recommendations from senior executives or board members supporting your candidacy for a board position?
  5. For start up companies, can you bring contacts to the table?
  6. Will your network recommend you with the traits important to be a board member such as a person with high integrity, a team player, and diplomatic communicator?

What kind of approach will you display as a board member:

  1. Do you like to ask deep, thoughtful questions about assumptions for business decisions?
  2. Are you comfortable with playing the director oversight role vs the management role?
  3. Do you look for innovative ways to approach issues?
  4. Can you, and do you, question the conventional wisdom?
  5. Is strategic thinking a part of your business DNA?
  6. Will you come prepared to every board meeting by reading a massive amount of material throughly?
  7. Are you a proven team player with an understanding that the dynamics of a board is one of the most important parts of good governance?
  8. Are you a good listener?
  9. Can you succinctly ask or address questions in the boardroom?
  10. Will you check your ego at the door and not get offended if your great idea is not adopted?

These questions can help you figure out if board service is right for you at the point in your career.   A high number of “Yes” means you’re ready to begin your board journey. If you answered “No” or “Unsure” to a number of these questions,  look at how you can build up your experiences, networks, or reputation before you begin a campaign for your board seat.  Doing the groundwork to build your board value tends to pay off.

Depending upon the depth of your experience in business, board service, or a specific skill currently needed by a board, you may also want to consider advisory boards which have no governance or fiduciary responsibilities.

Board service isn’t for everyone. It’s typically a lot of work to get a board seat and a lot of work once you get a board seat. Some love the work, and others who are excited by accomplishments via ‘hands on’ find that boards service doesn’t meet their desires to accomplish results.