The Benefits Of Sitting On A Company’s Board15 May, 2019 / Articles
As a CEO or entrepreneur, you may think that you should focus your energies solely on your own venture. After all, you may have built the company from the ground up, or at least shouldered a huge amount of responsibility. However, outside of your own company lies a world of unprecedented opportunities. Ask yourself, “what can I do that will improve my leadership skills and grow my network?” The answer is not to swan-off to a retreat for entrepreneurs, but to join the board of directors at another company, organization or charity.
A study by Harvard Business Review backs this up, concluding that serving on a board increases an executive’s likelihood of being promoted as a first-time CEO to an S&P 1500 firm by 44%, and even if they weren’t promoted their annual pay was increased by 13%.
Let’s consider some of the benefits of being on a board.
Develop your own leadership skills by learning from others
Anything that gets you in the same room (and around the same table) as other leaders and entrepreneurs who you can learn from should be seized with both hands. Observe how they tackle problems, how they carry out certain tasks, how they weigh up potential risks, even how they interact with other people and absorb from them. Pick the characteristics you admire and appreciate and slot them into our own repertoire. You shouldn’t just look up to titans of industries for inspiration, because the CEO next to you can just as easily teach you a key skill or trait that could resonate through the rest of your career.
Sitting on boards also adds a considerable amount of prestige and credibility to your name, with potential investors, business partners or even future employers viewing you as being someone who isn’t afraid of taking on new responsibilities and seeking new challenges. Ultimately, it helps to positively shape your corporate image and reputation, which can open up doors that previously may have been shut off.
Establish and grow your network
What better way to network effectively than to be on a board surrounded by the types of talented and ambitious people whose company is worth keeping. Sometimes the best connections you can make are with executives and leaders in completely different industries to the one you operate in, and these people can be difficult to meet unless you’re on a board with them. As you work closely with your fellow board members, having to tackle complicated issues that require high levels of cooperation and teamwork, you establish strong bonds that can often lead to genuine friendships, meaning your personal life is bolstered too.
A fellow board member will be able to connect you with their own contacts, thus broadening your network even further, but they may well be your company’s next big customer or business partner. They may even be your next investor.
Learn about how other businesses operate
In addition to learning how other leaders work, viewing a company from a board member’s perspective takes you closer to the action in a way that you would never be able to achieve by observing from the outside. You learn, in-depth, about new business models, and how other organizations live and breathe; whether it’s gaining a deep understanding of how they plan to handle their international expansion, or how they implement internal processes that result in a world-class company culture, you can take these learnings and apply them to your own company.
Make a real difference
The most crucial benefit of sitting on a board is that it allows you to make a real difference. You can play a key role in the success of another company or person, which is hugely rewarding and makes the significant investment in time and energy worth it. You can also look to join the board of a company that particularly interests you, for example if you’re an avid gamer or if you love sports, while you can also help out charity that is tackling an issue close to your heart.
So how do you get started? Build your profile through your own endeavors so that you’re an attractive prospective board seat member and in the position to be headhunted and invited in the first place. This may well be the best career decision you’ll ever make.