Making it to the boardroom: How to craft your narrative
With over 17 years of business experience, Liz works in partnership with an extensive and impressive blue chip client base. Much of her role involves using coaching as a means to motivate individual performance, grow self-confidence and bolster employee engagement.
Prove your worth
I believe the first step to taking a seat at the boardroom table is to demonstrate how you will add value and prove your worth within the organisation. It’s never too early to start the groundwork for this move.
A place in the boardroom requires the right experience and the right personal brand. To move to board level, you should be ready to seek out new challenges and bridge any gaps in your experience that may hinder the presentation of yourself as an ideal candidate. Be prepared to explain why you want to be on the board.
Prepare a CV suited to the role you want. A succinct narrative that details your experience and which supports your case as to why you deserve a seat on the board. Play up your achievements, show who you are and where you can bring value, and focus on what the board needs to know about you.
Be well versed in the issues and challenges the organisation is facing. The workplace is changing so rapidly that board members must be au fait with a wide range of topics. Make sure you are reading analyst reports and regulatory updates and keeping a finger on the pulse of your market and sector.
Focus on essentials
You must be able to engage with other board members on topics such as organisational strategy and value creation and be literate in terms of financial and performance perspectives.
Make sure you gain exposure to the finances of the organisation and that you have a good understanding of how the organisation works. Financial acuity is an essential proficiency in a board director as reading, analysing, and interpreting complex financial information is part of the boardroom skillset. You may be well positioned for a board role based on your industry, product, or technical expertise, but financial acumen is essential.
Networking and cultivating relationships will enable your campaign, pursue networking opportunities and concentrate on building board skills. Ensure you are visible and recognised for your skills, expertise and achievements, then exploit your network to help explore board work and other opportunities that will benefit your agenda.
The right perspective
Be sure you are ready to present yourself as a director. The chair will not be willing to compromise on quality and will be seeking a director who will fit with the culture and dynamic of the board. A global trend towards smaller boards together with increased responsibilities for board members means that boards can’t afford to carry under-performing directors.
Acquiring a robust understanding of the organisation’s strategy is predicated on judgement and intellectual agility, which are critical assets in any business leadership role. In an ambiguous and fast-paced environment potential directors need to work with complexity while adapting to the challenges faced in the boardroom.
If you are a serious contender for a boardroom role this intellectual agility is a given. You will have the capability to quickly assess and identify key strategic issues built up over your career. For first time directors there is a switch to be made in thinking about the organisation; cultivating a more detached mindset with a clear focus on a strategic rather than the operational agenda, and understanding the difference between governance and management.
Liz is wearing an Astley dress from our previous collection. Shop the current collection here.