Should you accept a Board Seat?

Should you accept a Board Seat

Deciding whether to accept a board seat is a significant decision that requires careful consideration. It’s not a commitment to be taken lightly, as it can profoundly impact your career and professional development. Before making a decision, there are several key factors to evaluate.

Taking on a board seat as an independent director is a decision that should align with your goals, aspirations, and values. It requires careful evaluation of the organization’s prospects, strategic priorities, governance practices, board composition, and personal and professional growth potential. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision allowing you to contribute meaningfully and derive value from your board position.

Consider the Professional & Personal Benefits of the Board Seat

Serving on a board can be an enriching and rewarding experience that benefits the organization and provides a unique environment to grow personally and professionally. Whether it is a board of directors for a public company, a nonprofit organization, or an advisory board for a private company, the advantages of taking on a board seat are numerous. Let’s explore some of the key benefits that come with serving on a board.

1. Expand your networks: Joining a board offers the chance to expand your professional network and build valuable relationships. Interacting with fellow board members, executives, and industry leaders can open doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and collaborations. Additionally, serving on a board exposes you to a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds and expertise, providing the opportunity to learn from their experiences and broaden your knowledge base.

2. Enhance your skills: Serving on a board exposes you to various aspects of corporate governance, strategic decision-making, financial management, risk assessment, and conflict resolution. These skills are transferable and can be invaluable in your own professional endeavors, whether it be in your current career or when pursuing future leadership roles. Serving your first board will help you gain the board experience required to secure further independent board roles. 

3. Gain diverse perspectives: Board positions offer a unique vantage point to gain insight into different industries, sectors, and markets. Contributing to discussions and decision-making processes can broaden your understanding of business dynamics and gain exposure to new ideas and perspectives.

4. Make a difference: Many individuals seek board seats because they have a passion for positively impacting organizations and communities. By leveraging your skills and experience, you can contribute to the strategic direction, growth, and success of the organization you serve.

5. Continuous learning: Board positions provide an excellent avenue for continuous learning and staying abreast of industry trends and developments. As a board member, you are consistently exposed to discussions, presentations, and reports on current strategies, market challenges, and emerging technologies. This exposure lets you stay ahead of the curve and ensures you remain knowledgeable and relevant in your industry.

6. Personal and professional growth: Serving on a board can be a transformative experience that challenges you to expand your comfort zone and take on new responsibilities. It offers opportunities for personal and professional growth through exposure to diverse experiences, perspectives, and challenges.

7. Enhance your personal brand and reputation: Being associated with a well-respected organization and being recognized as a board member can boost your professional credibility and increase trust among peers and colleagues. This increased visibility can open doors to new opportunities, speaking engagements, and thought leadership positions.

8. Give back to the community: Besides these professional benefits, serving on a board can be personally fulfilling. It provides the opportunity to give back to organizations and causes you are passionate about. Whether supporting a nonprofit’s mission, advocating for social change, or guiding a company through digital transformation, board service enables you to make a meaningful difference in areas that matter to you.

Crucial Questions to Ask Before Accepting a Board Seat

Serving on a board of directors comes with great responsibility, commitment, and professional and personal risk. Before accepting a board seat, it’s crucial to ask yourself some important questions to ensure that the opportunity aligns with your goals, values, and expertise.

Here are some key questions to ask yourself before accepting a board seat:

1. What is the time commitment? Serving on a board can be a significant time commitment. Before accepting a seat, it’s essential to understand the expected time commitment, including board meetings, preparation, and participation in committee work. Assess whether you can dedicate the necessary time and effort without compromising your other professional and personal responsibilities. Consider the less formal additional hours associated with the roles, such as representing the organization at community or social events.

2. What is the organization’s mission and values? Evaluate the organization’s mission and values to determine if they resonate with your beliefs and interests. Understanding the organization’s purpose and goals will help you assess whether you can contribute meaningfully and find fulfilment in supporting their mission.

3. What expertise and experience can you bring? Consider your skills, knowledge, and experience and how they align with the needs of the organization. Determine what specific value you can bring to the board in terms of industry expertise, functional experience, or specialized knowledge. Assessing your compatibility with the organization’s goals and your ability to contribute effectively is crucial.

4. What is the organization’s financial health? Evaluating the organization’s financial health before accepting a board seat is vital. Review their financial statements, annual reports, and any information on their financial stability. Understanding the organization’s financial position will help you assess the level of risk and the resources available to fulfil the organization’s objectives.

5. What is the board’s composition and dynamics? Take a closer look at the current board members, their backgrounds, and their contributions to the organization. Also, look into why there is a vacant board seat. Assess the diversity of expertise, perspectives, and skills represented on the board. Understanding the dynamics and functioning of the board can give you insights into your potential role and the level of collaboration and effectiveness within the board.

6. What is the organization’s strategic direction? Gain an understanding of the organization’s strategic goals, current strategies, and future plans. Assess whether the organization’s direction aligns with your own professional aspirations and whether you can contribute effectively to their strategic decision-making and implementation processes.

7. What is the potential for personal growth and development? Consider the opportunities for personal and professional growth that serving on this board can provide. Will you have access to valuable resources, networks, and learning opportunities? Evaluate how this experience can enhance your skills, expand your knowledge, and contribute to your overall growth.

8. What are the legal and ethical responsibilities? Before accepting a board seat, seek legal advice to understand your responsibilities and liabilities as an independent director or board member. Understanding the legal and ethical implications will ensure you are fully aware of the role and responsibilities involved.

9. Can you fulfil the fiduciary duty of this role? This means putting the interests of the organization before your own. Making objective decisions based on what is best for the organization takes selflessness and commitment, particularly when you do not personally benefit.

Two final things to consider 


What is the remuneration package for the board role? Will the organization reimburse you for expenses? Before taking on the board role, consider your current financial circumstances and time constraints. Essentially this is a part-time role, so to reap most of the benefits outlined above, you must fully commit to the board seat for 2-3 years. In most cases, even if offered a paid board role, the pay rate will not be anywhere near your executive pay rate.

If the board role includes an offer to invest in equity shares or receive dividends in lieu of remuneration, always seek financial and legal advice before accepting the offer. Whilst these roles may be lucrative, be careful that you may not be able to act impartially as an independent director once becoming a stakeholder by investment or shares. 


Passion and enthusiasm are essential for anyone considering accepting a board seat. When you have a genuine passion for the industry or cause that the organization represents, you bring a level of dedication and excitement that can be truly transformative. This passion fuels your motivation to go above and beyond, persevere, find solutions, and adapt to changing circumstances. Your passion will ensure you perform at your best and keep you going when times are tough. A poor or lacklustre performance in any board role can harm your professional career.

Passion is contagious and can inspire others within the boardroom and throughout the organization. By consistently demonstrating passion, you can build support, increase morale, and foster a collaborative-driven environment to propel the organization forward. 


Serving on a board is both an honor and a responsibility. Taking on a board role can lead to personal and professional growth by providing access to valuable resources and networks. When deciding whether or not to accept a board seat, consider carefully the composition and dynamics of the board, the organization’s strategic goals, potential for personal growth, legal and ethical responsibilities, and whether you can fulfil the fiduciary duty of a board member. Additionally, assess time- commitments and remuneration, plus your personal passion for the industry or cause that the organization represents. Ultimately, if you are confident in your ability to contribute meaningfully to the board’s success, it is worthwhile considering accepting a board seat.

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About the Author

David Schwarz is CEO & Founder of Board Appointments. He has over a decade of experience in putting people on boards as an international headhunter and recruiter. He has interviewed hundreds of directors and placed hundreds into some of the most significant public, private and NFP director roles in the world.

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