Joining a Board can be an exciting and enriching experience. On
the flip side, it can also become overwhelming and require more of
your resources than originally anticipated. Before making the leap
to Board membership there are a few things you should consider to
help you make the most of the opportunity.
The four key considerations include:
It is essential that, as a prospective Board member, you clarify
exactly what your responsibilities will be if you accept the role.
In most cases the position will see you accepting fiduciary
obligations to the organisation. Familiarise yourself with the
organisation's policies, financial status, meetings, leadership
style and training regimes to ensure that you minimise the risk of
liabilities surfacing. It's also wise to ask about the
company's stance on a Board member's personal liability
coverage to ensure there are no surprises down the track and that
you fully understand any personal liability you may have in the
Time is a valuable resource that is often not considered when
deciding to join a Board. Before accepting any position, you should
consider how often the Board meets and the nature and volume of
board papers that you will need to review prior to each meeting.
Another important question to ask is whether there are any upcoming
events or tasks that may require additional time, such as
fundraising events or application writing. Whilst you may think you
have allocated enough time, make sure you 'budget' more
time for the role in the event that the direction of your task
changes course. You should also consider your current obligations
and the likelihood of any of them demanding more of your time in
It is very important to consider 'expectations' when
accepting a Board role - both your expectations as to what you
personally hope to achieve from the position, as well as the
Board's expectations of what you will bring to the role. Before
accepting the role, take the opportunity to discuss your potential
contribution with other Board members and clarify whether your
skills and knowledge are balanced with what they are looking for.
If the expectations demanded of you are within your capacity and
the rewards meet your expectations, then the role has the potential
to be very fulfilling.
As with any new role, joining a Board requires new skills,
knowledge and an understanding of your rights, responsibilities and
obligations. Undertaking specific training designed for Directors
can help you to clarify your duties and responsibilities, identify
potential risks and better understand your obligations. It will
equip you with the knowledge you need before joining a Board, as
well as providing information on minimising risk for both the
organisation and yourself.
Participating within a Board can be a satisfying opportunity
that allows you to make a great contribution and foster new
relationships, however it does come with great responsibility. It
is strongly recommended that anyone considering joining a Board
role spares a thought for the above considerations.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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