Considering joining a Board? Here are four things to consider

Peter Stewart

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:

1. Due Diligence/Liability

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 future.

2. Time

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 the future.

3. Expectations

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.

4. Training

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 comes with great responsibility. It is strongly recommended that anyone considering joining a Board role spares a thought for the above considerations.

For more information on Director's responsibilities please read our Plain English Guide to the Responsibilities of a Director. If you have any questions in relation to accepting a board position, please do not hesitate in seeking professional advice from the Coleman Greig Commercial Advice Team: