The importance of Mindset in any non-executive director job search

non-executive director mindset

“I can accept failure.  Everyone fails at something.

But I can’t accept not trying.”

Michael Jordan.

After years of uncertainty in the job and financial markets, the tables have turned. The labour market has rebounded with some gusto and businesses are struggling to fill their vacant opportunities.

In most industries, it is the ideal time job search and secure that dream position.  The non-executive director market is also buoyant, with company owners seeking to add levels of talent to their boards which, at one time, may have seemed out of reach.

If the non-executive director path has intrigued you or you’ve tentatively explored “going plural”, now is the time.

But buyer beware! 

Confidence, or rather, mind-set is a crucial component when job seeking in any market and indeed, a negative or low confidence approach can lead you down many dead-ends.  I know because I have seen some exceptionally talented advisors fail miserably to build a portfolio and it can be a painful experience, not to mention confidence eroding.

It’s all in your head.

Here are a few ways you can get yourself thinking positively to attract the board opportunity you desire.

Read the news.

I know.  This one can be a double-edged sword.  Main Stream Media in the UK love to report negatives so when I say “Read the news” it may seem the most unusual piece of advice on the list!

In most cases, mindset coaches (the ones worth their salt) would typically advise against this advice, because news is known to push a negative narrative that makes us anxious. So why am I advising you to read it now? Simple: Because the job market outlook is great!

Use your network.

You’d be mistaken for thinking that reaching out to people and telling them you’re looking for a job is just for recent graduates, but it most certainly is not. 

The non-executive director route is unlike the executive director market.  Unlike finding a new role when you are employed, the non-executive director job search involves making as many people as possible aware that you’re open to using your skills, networks and knowledge to help their business succeed.  Whether you do that through a LinkedIn status, using non-executive director communities like or catch-ups over messages, it is the only way you will win more opportunities.

You don’t have to frame yourself as looking for “a job”; you should think of yourself as someone looking for their next challenge – someone who can add enormous value to SME businesses.  Flip the script to whatever feels right for you.

Ironically, being more senior in your career (even if you’re not in work now) will usually mean that others are more willing to help you out — perhaps out of the hope that you’ll return the favour later on when you land the position. Think about the business introductions that non0-executives make for the good of their clients – accountants, M&A advisory, legal, insurance and more.  You have the power, you just need to believe!

Treat a non-executive job search like an actual job.

Being in the process of building a non-executive director career may  technically mean you’re unemployed, but labelling yourself as such isn’t a mindset that will set you up for success.

Your job search is your job.

Be specific about what you want and who/how you can add value.

It is a basic fact that SME business owners do not hire a non-executive to be hit over the head with a corporate governance stick!  Yes, governance is a part of any non-executive’s role but it is by no means the element that will get you hired.  The sooner you are aware of this, the better.

By the time you’re looking for a non-executive or board advisory position in an organization, you should have the life and work experience to know what you’re good at and what you want. Job-search mode often impacts mindset and many of the best (potential) non-executives  start to settle for anything and apply for everything. Being open-minded is great, but having zero direction is a recipe for disaster.

The closer it is to your perfect fit and the greater your motivation is, the more likely you are to be successful, so being more specific can actually increase the chances of you landing a role. Letting panic set in does nothing but cloud your logic.


Without any doubt, surrounding yourself with those on the same journey will benefit you – both mentally and in terms of your outlook.  There’s a saying:

If you hang around with 5 confident people, you will be the 6th

If you hang around with 5 intelligent people, you will be the 6th

If you hang around with 5 millionaires, you will be the 6th

You are the average of the people you hang around with.

That’s why is a “no brainer”.  Join 15,000+ of your peers.  Our members advise over 25,000 boardrooms.

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