After an overwhelming response to my recent blog “Top 7 Challenges for Director Candidates,” I wanted to share a few more insights for director candidates. As a board consultant who does director search and offers a coaching engagement to help first-time candidates with a “directorship strategy” to gain a public company board seat, I hear from many director candidates who are experiencing the hard challenge of gaining a public company board seat. Oftentimes, I am offering words of encouragement. While I am happy to help, I also want to point out some of the “harsher” realities of what I see and hear from director candidates.
- Entitlement. This comes across as an attitude communicating “I have worked all my life and ‘deserve’ a board seat.” Compared to other candidates, who know the days of an honorary board seat are gone, this attitude represents a failure to commit to a full-fledged initiative, to confirm assumptions on their value at a board level and to complete the due diligence necessary to be a serious candidate.
- Locked in the past. This comes across as a lack of information about the changes in 21st century board composition and assumes that the good-old-boy system is still in place. Compared to other candidates, who have done research about board composition, there is dated belief that the tried and true has not changed.
- Lack of strategic alignment. This comes across as a lack of having a specific board-level value proposition linked to the industry sector, company size and current board composition. Compared to other candidates, who have a clear value proposition for a specific board and who clearly communicate how they will add value, it has a mud-on-the-wall approach, and the candidate is unable to verbalize in a succinct statement what he or she would bring to a board.
- Failure to communicate (reaching out and listening). This comes across as lack of a clear plan to keep in touch with important stakeholders, as well as a failure to keep track of previous board conversation high points. Compared to other candidates, who have a calendar and notes from board and stakeholder conversations, this is negligence in communication efforts and can be fatal.
Gaining a directorship means preparing for an extremely competitive environment. A director candidate had better know what sets them apart for the board seat they desire. For more information, see The Becoming a Public Company Director Board Guru™ eBook trilogy.