Saying Yes or No to Board or Executive Positions

Obviously, I am not lawyer. I have an inherent passion and desire for learning. Since I am not a lawyer, I am making clear that the opinions in this post are not legal advise. This post is my opinion, commentary and practical view of assessing risk when deciding whether or not to pursue or stay in board or executive management service at a corporation.

In my career, I have served as a President/CEO and an elected board member at corporations. I had and have leadership skills. That was the basic job description that exalted me to such roles.

I did not know that I could (and more importantly should) consider what the legal obligations really meant for these positions. I did have the cookie cutter training of ‘fiduciary responsibility’.

However, through my actual experience, I now know those trainings, seminars and orientations are lacking when compared to the true weight of personal liability that comes with signing on as a board or executive officer role in a corporation.

Lawyers litigate and lawyers provide governance training. But, in my recent experience, I have come to find that litigation does not mean lawyers actually go to trial.

More disturbing to me is that Judges are not necessarily required by any standardized rules, regulation, or law to have first-hand experience of going through any actual number of trials themselves, to qualify to even be considered for a judgeship.

So, as I said before, I am not a lawyer. My post is not giving any legal advise.

I have a point of view about this because I have been sued and I have suffered. Going through a lot of misery in a way that I have, does not stay isolated strictly to me. In fact, I continue to suffer; as does my family. That is the most hurtful and negative impact of not fully understanding the ‘worst-case’ scenario or the ‘full weight’ of the legal obligation positions like these carry.

I did not feel or realize that actual heaviness of that weight until I was accused of fraud, conspiracy of fraud, and conversion.

That was a weight that was suffocating and paralyzing. It only got worse when I came to find out there was no longer any way to put down that weight and walk away.

You do not get to go backward or forward. It becomes dead weight. And right away, so do you.

My purpose (at this point in my life) is that I want people to understand what I know on this subject. I want people to have more information than what I had. I want this so others can make a more “informed-decision” on their career decisions.

Stay tuned to this limited series in the coming days.

The next post will discuss my view on where fiduciary duty stops and being a law abiding citizen starts.

Published by Trudy Sobocienski

My blog, "Beyond Leadership" is a creative place to share my personal feelings and thoughts while working in leadership roles for a variety of Alaska Native organizations, both for and not-for profit entities. An incredible leader and mentor of mine once asked while we were in Washington, DC, "What happened to you between the ages of 7-10 that motivated you to serve in a native leadership capacity". I was struck by that poignant thought and as such, include actual entries from my mother and my diaries beginning in the early 1970's. I enjoy sharing these excerpts because it captures the parallels she and I were experiencing throughout life, from two separate worldviews. Hers as a young mother of four and mine as her eldest child. I have never came across a book on leadership that lays bare a leaders personal feelings, thoughts, hopes, fears and dreams they were experiencing. So for me, my goal is two-fold: 1. Share the incredible life my parents created for my siblings and I growing up in remote Alaska; and, 2) Sharing my humanity, through my personal diaries and journals, while serving as the youngest-ever President/CEO for the Alaska Native Health Board. There are passages that will include significant policy issues I was working on throughout my career and travels. There are many more passages that do not. I cannot speak for my mom's passages, because I am reading them as I share them here, with you; with her permission of course.

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