By Donna Price, Governance Coach and founder of the Governance Boutique
Ambition is a great driver of achievement. Over a lifetime, I have been deeply privileged by the support, inspiration and guidance of an array of generous and ambitious women. Often, what seemed commonplace became nobler under the skillful touch of interested and enthusiastic women.
Talented women business executives, many with decades of experience, strive to be fiduciaries of the highest level of authority and influence – and consider board service the apex of achievement. A critical factor in support of this noble ambition is the ability to express and articulate your value. While an executive resume is a helpful tool, it is not the same as a board resume or board biography. It takes time and effort to prepare for a board role – a role which, overall, values ‘what you can do’ in contrast to what you have done.
A career resume flush with highlights of ever-expanding roles and challenges and corresponding achievements provides compelling personal metrics and a model of functional accomplishments. It is often the primary reference for constructing a compelling captivating and thoughtful value proposition statement that answers, “What can you do?” In preparing a board biography, synthesizing your functional accomplishments and uniqueness into a value proposition statement is an essential step towards articulating your value for a board role. The statement should answer the question the board nominating committee will inevitably ask – what contribution or added value can you bring to our board?
Framing your value proposition statement around a one page board biography that emphasizes not only your skills for a board role but also highlights your credentials and performance accomplishment from current or previous board roles (or executive roles where board experience is minimal or absent) succinctly illustrates what you can do and who you are.
A board biography is personal. Your passions reflect who you are. Your professional skills also say a lot about who you are. Why you want to join a board and what type of board you want to join are important elements of a board biography. It is also a good opportunity to reflect on your motivations for seeking a board position, to develop self-awareness around the skills you can bring to the board table and the impact you wish to make.
Boards are decision-making forums and strive for consensus. Importantly, boards operate as a unit. Every individual director has a leadership preference of how to analyse a problem or issue and reach a solution. Blending different styles of leadership is vital to creating an effective board culture and each style must complement the other. Knowing and reflecting your leadership leadership style in a board biography goes a long way in reflecting who you are and your fit for a target board.
One of the core distinctions between an executive resume and board resume is audience. Highlighting your selective ‘in-action’ accomplishments illustrate how your skill and efforts amassed achievement. Your value is your personal brand – and you must demonstrate your value in your board documents and conversations that aim to flush out your value for board service. It is as much about the potential you bring in the future as your track record of achievement in the past.
The Governance Boutique offers a customized approach to support prospective board candidates in fulfilling the noble objective to join a board of directors. Regardless whether your ambitions are focused on joining a not-for-profit, private or public company board, we have the expertise to support you in articulating your value for board service. Importantly, under our skillful touch, we make what may seem commonplace or administrative in nature, a noble service for the interested and enthusiastic women who aim to serve on a board.