Skills You Learn from Being on a Board, in and out of Your Career

There are so many benefits that come from being on a board of directors. It’s a great shot in the arm for your career, an excellent way to expand your networks, along with a host of unexpected benefits too. But other than the load of direct benefits you’ll see from being a director, there are also a number of great skills and qualities you’ll learn throughout your board career.

In this article, I’m going to share a few of my favourites with you, and hopefully inspire you to take some steps toward the boardroom.

Empathy

This first one may come across as less expected than the others, but in my experience it’s one of the traits you learn first when working as a director. The chances are that your board will include a mix of different people from all sorts of backgrounds. This might be directors of different generations, nationalities and career expertise. Working with such an eclectic group, you’ll quickly broaden your horizons and see things from a multitude of different points of view, which is a great quality to have in your career, but also in your personal life too.  

If you are part of a senior management team in your “day job”, it’s also likely you’ll have a whole new empathy for the board and management dynamic!

Emotional Intelligence

Like most roles in business, working on a board can sometimes be a heated affair; however, if you’re working with a good team of directors, hopefully you’ll be able to resolve issues in a calm and mature manner. This is a fantastic exercise in emotional intelligence, and I’ve found that it’s a quality that grows incredibly quickly among new board members. Greater emotional intelligence often means a wiser approach to difficult situations, which is of course a brilliant thing to have in all your life relationships.

Decision Making

We all need to make important decisions, even more so if you work in a boardroom where the ripple effects of your decisions will be far-reaching. Fortunately, you should be working with experienced directors who’ve developed keen, reasoned approaches to decision making. You can learn from this and start applying it to all aspects of your life.

Influence

As a board director, you need to know when and how to exert your influence. And much of this comes down to timing and finesse. Of course, this is something that exists outside of a boardroom, but you can be sure that you’re going to develop a keener sense of influence from working as a director, and be able to use that skill elsewhere.

Confidence

Many of us suffer from problems around confidence and self-doubt – it’s only human and most would certainly prefer directors were not ever overconfident in the boardroom. It does, however, hold us back in our relationships and careers. Working on a board is a great way to boost your confidence as you’ll be working with senior figures, on par with them, and your heightened level of authority is bound to start rubbing off on you pretty quickly.  

That’s just a list of five top traits you learn from working as a director, but I’d love to write a part two to this article at some point because there are plenty more qualities that I haven’t had time to mention here.

Hopefully by now you can see that working on a board is about much more than advancing your career. It’s about learning and improving upon key characteristics that will help you and others around you in a number of different ways.