As an executive or experienced professional, you’ve heard that serving on a board benefits your career. Perhaps you’ve been asked to serve in this capacity or are considering a search – be it for a corporate entity, advisory board or nonprofit – and you’re enticed by the potential benefits.
However, since pursuing a board position requires a considerable investment of time and effort, you may ask yourself: is the payoff worth it?
In short, yes. A board role provides professional development and personal growth, which can fuel career advancement and strengthen your personal brand.
With a board position, consider that you will:
Strengthen your reputation
When selected to serve on a board, an organization entrusts you with a vital, high-impact role and publicly endorses your expertise and value. When you communicate and promote this affiliation, you raise your professional profile among your peers, within your organization and across your industry. By extension, your board affiliation enhances your employer’s brand. Taken together, these factors may strengthen your candidacy for a promotion or new role and increase your value in the workplace.
Grow your network
In addition to meeting other board colleagues, a board position provides a wealth of opportunities to meet influential, intelligent and well-connected people. You’ll engage with an organization’s strategic partners, investors and clients, as well as colleagues and leaders across industries. As you become acquainted with new people, cultivate meaningful relationships. These will be important contacts when you’re ready to pursue the next step in your career.
Sharpen your skillset
Serving in a board position will enable you to strengthen professional skills, particularly related to:
- Collaboration: You’ll work with other board members and organizational leaders across business and functional areas (some of which may be newer to you). And, when there are differing opinions, board members must collaborate and build consensus.
- Strategic Direction: Since you contribute more broadly, you may be asked to steer improvement of the organization’s financial health, market competitiveness or investments. Or, you may assist with evaluating financial performance, compensation practices and leadership. Any one of these things can be a great step up, especially if you are accustomed to overseeing a single functional area (e.g., finance or operations) professionally.
- Leadership: In addition to the obvious leadership function as a board member, you may head a committee. This differs from overseeing a team of direct reports or a cross-functional team. If the committee meets remotely, you’ll sharpen remote management and communications skills. You may also have the opportunity to coach and mentor members of the organization’s senior management team or junior board colleagues.
These skills will augment your professional wheelhouse and benefit your career advancement in any capacity.
Gain exposure and insight
Board positions provide access to the inner workings of an organization, as well as the opportunity to learn about other industries, business strategies and markets from an insider’s perspective. This exposure enhances your marketability and may ignite your drive to take your career to the next level. This will benefit you greatly if you choose to pursue a role in a different industry or make a professional pivot.
Set the stage for future opportunities
Exhibiting solid performance on a board and utilizing your expertise to contribute meaningfully to an organization’s goals will elevate your professional reputation and position you as a credible, go-to person with insight who drives things forward. As your value and visibility within the organization and with stakeholders grows, so will their endorsements of you. These leaders will know the value of working with you firsthand, which may help you when looking for future board roles or employment opportunities – or as those opportunities find you.
Serving on a board provides invaluable opportunities to broaden and sharpen skills, grow your professional network and gain exposure to new industries and areas of business. In a board position, you’ll expand your professional experience, elevate your reputation and strengthen your personal brand — all key elements to propel career advancement.