Common concerns we hear at WIB, answered by Sheila Ronning | Women in the Boardroom

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#SheilaSays series on why serve on a board

Common concerns we hear at WIB, answered by Sheila Ronning

Why Should You Serve On A Corporate Board?

Reason #1: Service to Others

The “service” component of corporate board service really lives up to the name. Many women choose to pursue board service as a way of giving back. As a director you will be providing guidance and advice to help a company reach their best potential. Directors become familiar with the company’s employees; they believe in their products or services; they guard carefully the interests of shareholders. Helping to maximize a company’s performance to benefit all those groups is a satisfying way to give back.

Reason #2: Intellectual Challenge

Have you been itching for a new challenge? Something that makes you think, exposes you to new situations, and uses your expertise in valuable ways? Board service can provide all of this and more. You will be at the table working with smart, talented people on complex issues that require sharp thinking and deft persuasion. Directors learn about industries, products and services they may have never encountered before, and/or if they are retired from their corporate job it also helps them to stay current. Effective board service involves sophisticated communication skills in order to influence high-powered people who are peers, and directors often say they enjoy polishing those leadership chops. If you are looking for your next move, board service may be appealing to you!

Reason #3: An Enhanced Resume and Reputation

With a new challenge comes new responsibilities, and those new responsibilities will be a great addition to any resume. Adding a line for board service will immediately raise your perceived level of authority within the industry. Since public and private board seats can be competitive, people will also see it as an accomplishment. Even more than an enhanced resume, corporate board directors, especially those serving with distinction, will enjoy access to and recognition from an ever-growing circle of powerful people.

Reason #4: A Fulfilling “Second Career”

Depending on where you are at in your career, you may be looking to speed up or slow down. The great thing about board service is that it can be good for either! There is such a mix when it comes to the corporate boardroom. There are those who need the extra challenge while still maintaining a full-time career, but others who serve on boards exclusively. The folks in the latter usually do so after several decades of holding senior-level positions. They want to follow a different lifestyle from the day-to-day intensity of an executive job – for family, age, or other reasons – but still apply their skills in a stimulating way. Especially for women who already find themselves in the C-Suite, your professional career growth does not have to stop there. Consider board service to shake things up a bit.

Reason #5: What you learn stays with you

The knowledge and expertise that you are exposed to as a board director does not stay within the confines of a boardroom. You are learning how another company does business while sitting at the table with extremely smart people, observing how they communicate and do business. The bonus is that this information might be useful at the company you are already working for! Most directors are saying that they get more than they give to the corporate boardroom. Being in the room with other high-powered individuals is very valuable and should be treated as such.

Reason #6: Career Advancement

Over the last few years, many large companies have begun to encourage senior management to seek out board positions. Why? Well, it might be that they want to see how you perform on a board and prime you for a higher position as CEO or other C-Suite executive. Board service can be a great preparation tool for future executive roles! You get familiar with the sorts of conversations you would be having, the performance expected of you, and generally looking at the world in a way that a board member needs to look at the world.

About Women in the Boardroom™

Since 2002, we have been the experts that help you get your seat at the table. We provide a customized step-by-step approach to getting on your 1st, 2nd or 3rd corporate board that includes exclusive programs such as our Matchmaking Program™, Annual Board Assembly and proven networking process. And with nearly 50% of our VIP Members serving on corporate boards, our proven process works!

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