This is an excerpt of BlueSteps' guide Your Executive Guide to Joining a Board of Directors.
While executives know board positions are great professional opportunities, many still shy away from adding one to their career plan because they find the strenuous selection process daunting or worry about the time commitment of serving on a board. These are fair considerations, but the challenges are well outweighed by the experiences and professional growth it can provide. As you decide whether a board role is right for you, consider the following benefits serving on a Board of Directors will give you.
1. Expand Your Network
Most people who are on boards get there because they enjoy networking and have a strong professional circle that afforded them a board opportunity. When you serve on a board with leaders who are passionate about making new connections, you will be able to expand your existing community of friends and colleagues, adding influential people with different backgrounds and insights. This new network can be an asset for the rest of your career when you are looking for new executive jobs, additional board roles, or simply to swap ideas with someone who has a different outlook than you.
2. Grow Your Personal Brand
Outside of optimizing your LinkedIn profile, joining a board is the best thing you can do to boost your executive brand. It is an impressive addition which adds gravitas to any resume, CV or LinkedIn profile. A board role also shows other executives and thought leaders in your industry that you are a front runner in your field and well-equipped to help shape the future of an organization. The additional exposure will have a positive impact on your visibility to executive search consultants and further assist them in understanding your unique value when sourcing potential board candidates.
3. Support Initiatives That Resonate with You
Many individuals join a board as a way to give back. Nonprofit boards can provide an excellent opportunity to positively affect change or support organizations working towards a cause they are passionate about. Small private boards offer the chance to provide your specific knowledge or expertise to the organization to really make a difference to the company’s operation. Whether you are helping to hone the focus of an organization currently working toward an initiative that resonates with you or supporting one that is just beginning their efforts to achieve a goal that aligns with your passions, serving on a board can be a uniquely rewarding experience.
4. Supplement Your Income
While income and compensation should never be the key motivator in joining a board, we would be remiss in not saying it is a factor to be considered. Serving on a public or private equity board can serve as a side hustle for those looking to augment their income. Look at a board income as an annuity that increases your personal income when you are working and a way to replace the income from your W2 with a 1099 as a complement to your retirement savings and benefits when you are retired.
5. Intellectual Challenge
For leaders who are always curious to learn more things, board duties will provide a rewarding intellectual challenge. If the board serves a different industry than your specialty, you will need to become well-versed on the sector and its competitive landscape in order to make informed contributions. Because the duties of board directors are dramatically different than those of operating roles, you will have to learn to look at organizations in a more holistic manner and develop a deeper understanding of a breadth of topics ranging from mergers and acquisitions, market growth campaigns and technological adaptions.
6. Makes You Better at Your Current Job
As a board director, you will gain insight into a new company which probably has a different structure and way of doing business than yours. The other board members will also be from various industries and roles, some of which you may not typically work with. The deviation from your norm will teach you news ways of operating and how different organizations and industries approach situations. Simply listening to others in your meetings will provide you cross-functional information on ways to approach problems and find new solutions. Those takeaways can not only help you during your time on the board, but as you continue in your executive career.