Journey To A Board Seat


The problem many women leaders face is that their career path at some point hits a dead end. Either they want a senior executive position and can’t seem to get it; or they have that position and know they need to expand their skills to succeed; or they have had it and are ready to ease off – they want to move into a new phase of their professional lives without giving up their professional identities.

Becoming a member of a corporate board solves each of those problems. It is the best kind of professional development for senior executive leaders, and it’s also a way to transition out of the workaday world into a less intense but more fulfilling phase of contribution and meaning.

Nevertheless, few women actually find their way to a board seat. Why? Perhaps they don’t know how valuable that role could be for them, or perhaps they don’t know how to get there. Perhaps they simply don’t believe it’s possible, given that most board’s seats are filled by men.

Enter The Athena Alliance, an organization that prepares women to succeed in finding a board seat – and for corporate boards to find them. The Athena Alliance offers Membership options for individual leaders. Even better, companies often cover the costs of Membership for their employees as a benefit, knowing that the journey to a board seat will actually make them better leaders.

I became acquainted with The Athena Alliance when I was promoting my book The New Advantage: How Women in Leadership Can Create Win-Wins for their Companies – and ThemselvesThe Athena Alliance helps women to be successful in finding a board seat by preparing them, educating them, and connecting them to a network, until they find the board seat they want.

In my coaching, I have seen women take this journey with remarkable results.

  • Laura was an Executive Vice President who tried for years to break into a C-level role. Only when she joined The Athena Alliance and took the journey to a board seat did she get the visibility, credibility and opportunity she needed to finally gain the title of CEO.
  • Nancy had been a CFO in a Fortune 500 company for years and was ready to retire ~ but at 52 felt she had much life ahead of her. Taking the journey to a board seat led her to explore many new interests and gave her the opportunity to support companies she believed in and help them succeed.
  • Lillian had led a company as the CEO before it sold. After a year’s rest and retirement, she started to get restless. She loved her work and felt she had a lot to offer. Her journey to a board seat gave her a way to exercise her mind and share her skills while maintaining an easy, peaceful quality of life – and get paid well to do it

Whether you are a business leader who wants to succeed as an executive, or an executive who wants to transition to a board member, you will benefit from understanding what The Athena Alliance has to share with women about how to succeed.

Join me for this 12-part series as we explore your Journey to a Board Seat – up next: An Interview with the leader of The Athena Alliance, CEO Coco Brown. As a sneak peek, here are a few words from an Athena member:

 “Athena Alliance is tireless in its mission to bring valuable opportunities and indispensable resources to its membership. There are only actions and results—from matching me to stimulating board roles, promoting my company and my profile among industry leaders, to helping me make the most important business connections. When I think of any organization that is a must to be a part of, I first think of Athena Alliance.”Caroline Tsay
CEO & Co-founder of Compute Software
, Board Director @ Coca-Cola Company and Morningstar

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How To Organize Your Life, Do Less and Have More Time


Many of us have an action plan, or to-do list, to keep ourselves organized – at the beginning of the day we write down everything that we have to do, and then the day is filled with the victorious crossing off of items from the list. But what happens when you get to the end of the day, and too often there are lot of things left?

We’re left with a feeling like the work is never done, but perhaps the problem isn’t so much that there’s so much that needs to get done, but the fact that we’re putting everything on one long to-do list.

You can actually organize your thinking, and organize your time, just by changing your to-do list.

Having a detailed daily action plan can help you stay focused – it’s called the catalyst. In science, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction without being consumed in the process. For you, your catalyst is an action that dramatically increases the rate at which you achieve your vision without it consuming you.

The CATA-list action plan is divided into 4 categories:

  • Catalysts
  • Achievements
  • Tasks
  • Avoidances

The catalyst: To find your catalyst, ask yourself: What is the one thing I can do that will have the greatest impact on my vision? The guiding principle for your catalyst is that you know this one item would do the most to get you to your goal. For example, let’s say you’re trying to lose 50 pounds. A catalyst might be to go running, or give up sugar. Your catalyst is that one thing that’s most important for you to do to manifest your desired outcome.

Achievements: These are the actions you classify as highly important. They might not have the transformational effect of your one catalyst, but they’re the achievements that matter on a day-to-day basis. It’s your daily actions, priorities, projects and deadlines.

Tasks: This category is for the actions you like to take, but can’t justify as truly critical, at least not in terms of your priorities and goals. Tasks are typically big time consumers. These are the long meetings that need to be scheduled, networking events, or maybe they’re things you like to do only after the more valuable action items are taken care of.

Avoidances: These are the actions that have actually very little return. Often times, scrolling through social media feeds falls into this category. Surfing through our emails, unuseful conversations are avoidances that actually take up the time we need for more important priorities in our lives. By creating a catalyst you have organized now your to-do list in an efficient way in an organized order of value for your time.

By creating a catalyst you have an organized your list of action items in an efficient way, and in an organized order of value for your time. When you see your catalyst through, you free yourself of the daily to-do list, and organize your list of action items according to your priorities – and, ultimately, achieve your vision.

For more resources on time management, work-life balance and other leadership coaching materials, see Joelle’s recent books and articles, and resources for women leaders.