Being selected to serve on a corporate board is a career aspiration for many executives. I know because I shared the same aspiration. Joining a corporate board is one of the fastest ways for executives to take their leadership skills to the next level and broaden their perspectives through interactions with a diverse slate of independent, external board members.
I’m grateful that almost three years ago, I was nominated and selected to serve as an internal board director/manager for North Highland, the firm I joined in 2007. Taking on the responsibility of ensuring the perspectives and interests of employee-owners and the Firm are served, and, having direct interaction with superb external directors who also serve on other boards has been a huge learning opportunity. Next February, I’ll be sad to step down after serving my term. It’s been an experience that has been such an honor.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
No one tells you when you join a for-profit board how much you’ll evolve as a leader. You’ll develop and hone new business acumen assessing pivotal matters. You’ll adopt a more inquiring, impartial lens through which you’ll view the firm’s practices and strategy. Your decisions will have long-term consequences for many stakeholders: employees, alumni, clients, prospects, business partners and suppliers. My board service presented a unique opportunity to represent decisions for all our employee-owners, as well as for the ‘LLC’ and S-Corp perspectives.
I feel fortunate to have been able to guide major decisions for North Highland during a time of exciting transformation as we position ourselves for long-term growth through intentional strategic shifts. It’s great to see our efforts recognized in our industry as a ‘Best Firms to Work For’ by Consulting Magazine.
When you’re voicing perspectives before independent external directors you grow in confidence. For example, North Highland’s external directors during my term include several who’ve held CEO or chairman roles, a retired CFO of a Fortune 500 company, a retired Navy rear-admiral, and a national expert on leadership coaching. It would have taken me many years to attain the level of professional growth I’ve experienced as a result of being on North Highland’s board and for this experience, I’m so grateful.
I hope my tenure also benefitted our external directors who have learned more about North Highland from me. As we begin the nomination and selection process from among qualified executives for the next internal board candidate, I look forward to sharing my learnings, and to helping my successor transition successfully to the role, buoyed by the outstanding caliber of our external members.