Just What Are Corporate Boards Looking For In Their Candidate Search Now?
When a board has an opening, they traditionally search for a certain skill-set, background, and personality in a potential candidate. But with sudden changes in corporate governance needs caused by the latest demands brought on by the global pandemic and the increased necessity to diversify board members in regard to gender, race, and age, these qualifications have shifted quite dramatically in recent months.
It also is important to note that just a few short years ago, being a financial expert was a requirement for the majority of board openings, but in the current market boards are seeking a more diverse, and nimble skill-set for board members.
Essential Skills For Board Service
We know that women hone the essential skills and unwavering leadership behaviors required for crisis management and that those proficiencies are in demand now more than ever. But boards are also looking to add candidates who are enthusiastic, skilled leaders, willing to be accountable for overseeing the company’s performance from a strategic point of view.
Simply, boards crave confident leaders. They also want individuals to ask questions and challenge the status quo, something we women are naturally attuned to do.
As a board member, you’ll need to be committed to fulfilling your role to the highest standard. Additionally, having access to new skill-sets, beyond what has been required in the past, helps boards to address current deficiencies.
For example, your experience in a different industry or market segment can absolutely lend itself to board service and give you a competitive edge because of your ability to think differently and question operations from an outsider’s perspective. If you are immersed in the same subject matter day in and day out, it is often difficult to see things from other angles.
This is why experience outside of the company’s core competencies matters, and boards are looking for individuals with tenacity, grit, and who are able to think like entrepreneurs. Additionally as things have changed drastically over the past few months, we’re seeing an increased interest for individuals with experience in artificial intelligence, cyber security, supply chain, healthcare, and medicine.
Become a Generalist for Board Service
Ultimately, as a board member and because board requirements vary widely, you’ll need to be an excellent generalist. As you join a board, you should be able to develop the skill sets that allow you to understand auditing strategy, compensation, risk management, and so on. So the days of 12 board members, all uniquely gifted in one area but not necessarily good in the others, have gone.
The Shift in Requirements Since The Pandemic
Board requirements have shifted quite quickly as a result of the health crisis and call for societal changes we’ve seen and experienced in recent weeks and months. Across the nation, there has been an increase in awareness and an acknowledgement that many corporations could be doing a better job of diversifying their board membership and leadership.
It’s important for women who are in search of a corporate board seat to be responsive to these changes and fortify not only their industry areas of expertise, but how their skills can be leveraged in other industries, all while illustrating the essential soft skills like communications, decision-making, empowerment, culture improvement, and teamwork that make them such effective leaders.
If you’re interested in continuing the conversation, Reach out to me directly!
Sheila Ronning, Founder, Women in the Boardroom.