“If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money, but what I do have are a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career.”
– Liam Neeson, Taken
It is fair to say that certain experiences across a range of careers, organisations and positions can significantly increase the decision-making abilities of a board. Soft skills get a bad wrap but are invaluable in a boardroom, such as knowing how to listen and present information. In fact, your ‘very particular set of skills’ may already make you the perfect fit to start your board career. Read about the skills we want to see in the next generation of board members.
So, your morning routine includes checking Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat. You spend evenings on the message boards of Reddit. You have your finger on the digital pulse, trending topics and which memes are dead. What you already have is a level of understanding about the digital landscape that many established (usually older) board members shy away from or are unaware of how to utilise. Staying up to date on a range of platforms also puts you in good stead for predicting upcoming trends and potential business opportunities.
“Learning how to learn is life’s most important skill” – Tony Buzan
In the modern economy, data is the new oil. Do you know how to get it? Even better, do you know how to understand and use it, importantly, in an ethical way? No board wants a Cambridge Analytica-style scandal. Big decisions should ideally be backed up with insights from big data. Being able to bring the methodologies of data collection and analysis to the table can help inform choices in a board meeting. Perhaps even better is the ability to present data or critical learnings in a meaningful way.
“Making good decisions is a crucial skill at every level.” – Peter Drucker
You may think we mean lateral or critical thinking; that calm, level heading thinking which is indeed valuable in a decision-making process. But before we even look at what we’re doing, a strategist needs to understand the background and objectives of the organisation. “Why are we doing this?” To perform effectively on a board, you’ll need to identify the core values of the organisation and know whether they align with your values. This will make defining any strategy (the how and what) much more manageable. Simon Sinek’s TED Talk about the Golden Circle beautifully demonstrates why “why” matters.
We don’t mean being hot-tempered and abrasive. Understanding the theory of argument and being able to develop and deliver a cogent argument is vital if you’re planning to have any authority in as a board director. You may be part of the legal profession, an expert mooter, or be involved in pitching in marketing or sales. Consider where you have to propose of defend ideas and how that could benefit a board.
No matter your age, your unique set of skills and life experience can be an asset to a board, and any skill can be refined with courses provided by Director Institute. Board members from a diverse background are vital to making decisions and creating a successful organisation, be it corporate or non-profit. If your skills include digital acuity, data analysis, strategy and debating capacity, it might be time to start your board career and become a member of Director Institute. Agree with us?
If you’re looking to up-skill to become a member of a board, Director Institute Next Generation Directors offers one-on-one advice, mentoring, peer-to-peer education and business networking opportunities as well as exclusive board opportunities available no-where else in the market.