You have your eMBA, and now you’re making the leap to a Board position. Is your eMBA enough? What else can you do to prepare? While you may have presented to a Board of Directors before, it’s just a brief glimpse of what the Board does.
When you are invited to join the Board of a charity or company, you did your due diligence; read in depth about the organization, talked to your network contacts who worked or volunteered there, and learned as much as you could.
Now that you’re on the Board of Directors, how can you prepare to lead?
- More education. Consider attending a director education program which provides in-depth information about governance, fiduciary responsibilities, liabilities, shareholder reports, risk, and more. Your eMBA has given you at least the basics, but these programs offer a much deeper dive into governance.
- Meetings. Meet with each of the other Directors. Discuss priorities, dynamics, key performance indicators, an overview of the Board’s calendar, and culture. It’s essentially networking within your own organization, but you need to have a good understanding of the long-term course the company or charity has taken so far, and that can inform your planning for the future.
- More meetings. Meet with key managers and personnel, on-site when possible. Getting all your information from the C-Suite can’t give you the same context and feel for the company. You’ll get first-hand information on everything from priorities to culture, which is invaluable.
- Reading. You’ll be given a wealth of reading material, do wade through it all. Pay special attention to overviews of operations and infrastructure. You may understand the industry as a whole, but now you need to learn about the individual ship you’ll be steering.
- Notes. As you read, take meetings, and get settled in, keep a running set of notes with important insights and a glossary of terms and acronyms specific to this industry or organization…review, update, and add to these notes and bring them to your first few Board meetings, as they can save time and confusion!
- Money. Dive into the finances in detail, as the accounting system affects every report you’ll see as a Board Member.
This should be enough preparation to allow you to hit the ground running. Even in a small charity, the first Board position you hold can be overwhelming at first. Use the study and networking skills you learned while earning your eMBA and you’ll prepare to succeed.