Ask ON Series: Ep 01 – A Guide to Landing Your First Board Position

Nov 27, 2023

Answering the frequently asked question for our ON community in episode 01 of our Ask ON series: “How do I secure my first board position?”


Ask ON

In episode 01 of the Ask ON series, Mike Lynch, a partner at ON Partners specializing in board services, shares invaluable insights on a frequently asked question: “How do I secure my first board position?”.

Lynch, speaking from Stanford University, addresses the challenges individuals face in entering the world of boards due to their conservative nature and preference for directors with proven track records.

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In the video below, Lynch provides 4 tips on how to get on your first board.

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Mike Lynch, a partner at ON Partners specializing in board services, offers four key points to enhance one’s chances in this competitive board services landscape.

Firstly, Lynch emphasizes the importance of knowing your “superpowers.” Individuals aspiring to join a board should identify and articulate their unique strengths, whether they be functional expertise, industry knowledge, or a commitment to diversity. Understanding one’s value proposition is crucial for making a compelling case to the board and its selection committee.

Secondly, Lynch advises prospective board members to differentiate themselves from other candidates. Acknowledging the competitive nature of board appointments, he suggests investing in education, such as obtaining certifications from reputable institutions like the NACD. Staying informed on emerging trends, such as ESG, AI, cryptocurrency, or cybersecurity, can position candidates as valuable assets, especially if they bring expertise that current directors may lack.

The third point involves focusing on the right kind of boards. Lynch suggests that while larger, more prestigious boards may be appealing, they are also highly competitive. Exploring opportunities with smaller boards can provide a chance to gain hands-on experience and make a meaningful impact. Lynch recommends using the SEC website to analyze a company’s board matrix and identify areas where one’s skills could fill existing gaps.

Finally, Lynch underscores the importance of being one’s own advocate in the board selection process. Candidates should proactively communicate their interest in board roles, showcasing their investments in education and demonstrating a serious commitment to board service. Networking with individuals known for bringing in new directors can also significantly boost one’s chances of securing a board position.

By presenting these comprehensive strategies, Lynch provides a roadmap for aspiring board members, emphasizing the importance of understanding their strengths, continual learning, strategic targeting, and proactive self-promotion in securing a board position.

At ON Partners, our mission is board effectiveness, through talent acquisition and support. A key part of that mission is building leadership and board teams with the capabilities and aspiration to extend top leadership to enterprise success. View some of our recent board of directors engagements.

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