For those who want to join a corporate board of directors or need to recruit members there are ways to go about it that will save time, money and result in better outcomes for all concerned. That is the subject of Ryn Melberg’s interviews with Ralph Ward on the latest two editions of The Guardian Podcast with Ryn Melberg. The Guardian Podcast can be heard on iTunes (https://goo.gl/N3aJrz), Sound Cloud (http://bit.ly/2MJFlkl) or her website at http://rynmelberg.com.
The Wizard of Oz
According to Ward, there are many people who would be excellent candidates for board membership but are intimidated by the prospect. “Board members and the prospect of membership seem kind of big and scary to someone who has not spent much time around their board,” Ward said. “Sort of like the Wizard of Oz; it may seem frightening, but everyone has someone on the board working behind a curtain.” This mindset is likely because of the perception that they have not had any exposure to their respective board, but there may be more than anyone knows.
According to Ward, most people don’t think of their day to day work as making them board ready. But Ward says good candidates can be identified with a few questions. “I often ask people who might be candidates for director to list the things they have done that rose to the board level, he said. “I will ask them about projects or other outcomes that made it to the board level. Someone who maybe led the formation of a joint venture or acquisition’ would make them good board material, based on experiences like those.”
There are some people who are not good board candidates. Ryn described those who were way into details as one example. “Good board candidates need knowledge of profit and loss but should not look much beyond that level of detail,” she said. ‘A good board member needs a broader perspective.” Titles also matter.
Current or former CEO’s are thought to be good candidates because they know the role of chief executive and have reported to boards. But what about those who do not have the right title? Ward suggests that anyone who wants a board seat should first look to their own resume. “Take out your current resume and highlight those experiences that rose to the level of board exposure. Then write down everything not on the resume related to a board. Now you have a board resume for yourself,” Ward advised.
Ryn further advised that board candidates and even job seekers do an audit of their social media posts going back several years. Recently, baseballs’ Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader and Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb had their tweets, some of which went back to 2011, exposed to a much larger audience for their use of offensive language. Even political statements that were once thought ‘reasonable’ are off limits. “The choice of words by Hader and Newcomb were extreme and defy common sense regardless of when they were posted, Ryn said. “But in the hyper charged political atmosphere of post 2016 America, any opinion is certain to attract negative attention. Few companies can allow even a whiff of controversy, and no one who wants to be a corporate board candidate can afford it.”
“Board-Seeker: Your Guidebook and Career Map into the Corporate Boardroom” by Ralph Ward is the first practical guide written specifically to help board-ready leaders and executives gain the knowledge, resources, and confidence to shape their successful personal “onboarding” program. Assess the experience you’ve gained that makes you valuable to a board (there’s more than you think). Shape this into a powerful outreach portfolio, including a board resume, online image, and personal pitch. Gain the allies and mentors you’ll need (especially your boss) and build a targeted board network. Learn step-by-step how board searches really happen, and how to master each stage. Prepare for the board interview and vetting process and get ready for your first board meeting. To buy ‘Board Seeker’ go to https://goo.gl/W8iqHV.
Ralph Ward is an internationally-recognized speaker, writer, and advisor on the role of boards of directors, how “benchmark” boards excel, setting personal boardroom goals, and the future of governance worldwide. Ward is publisher of the online newsletter Boardroom INSIDER, the worldwide source for practical, first-hand advice on better boards and directors (www.boardroominsider.com). He also edits The Corporate Board magazine (www.corporateboard.com) the nation’s leading corporate governance journal, with corporate subscribers are directors and senior officers across the U.S. and in 27 foreign countries.