It’s no secret that leadership skills are necessary for advancing in the workplace, but those leadership skills also translate into rewarding opportunities outside of work. For many CPAs, joining a not-for-profit board is a great way to continue to use and hone their leadership skills outside of the workforce. However, there is a distinction according to Betty Thompson FCPA, FCGA, who has held many board and volunteer roles in not-for-profits, including currently serving as the Chair of CPA Alberta’s CPA Assist Committee.
“Leadership on a board of directors requires a lot of the same skills [as needed in a work environment], but for a different purpose,” says Betty. “Leaders on a not-for-profit board have to bring a group of individuals together with a passion for a cause.”
So if you’re thinking of making a difference in your community, you don’t have to put your leadership skills on the curb—just make sure you’re passionate about what you’re getting into. If you are thinking of joining a board, here are some tips for getting board-ready, according to CPA Canada:
Build your network
Build a network of friends, associates, and colleagues that respect you for your keen thinking and sound judgement.
Promote yourself and your designation
Build a personal brand. Spend time thinking about what you are best at and how you can do it uniquely. Remember that CPAs are uniquely positioned for board roles because of their financial acumen and business insight. Your designation is an asset, especially for audit committee roles, so don’t be shy about promoting your CPA.
Familiarize yourself with good governance practices
There isn’t one set of skills that boards look for. Good boards are intentionally made up of people with a variety of skill sets. An understanding of good governance practices, however, complements all of the other sought-after skills and is a way to set yourself apart.
Find a mentor and/or sponsor
Seek a respected board member who can help you hone your skills and eventually vouch for those skills—someone that you respect and is already on a board.
Read the full article in the upcoming fall/winter issue of Dividends—which has a focus on leadership—arriving in your mailbox in late November.