How a Modern Non-Executive Director Operates

The role of a non-executive director employs the good judgement, expertise and decision making abilities gleaned through several years working in a given industry or sector. They are appointed to provide an independent and constructive view of the high-level strategic decisions made by the executive board. However, the role of the non-executive director has evolved over the last few years, and has become a lot more involved with leadership and board culture.

Whilst the non-executive director brings their impressive CV showcasing their skillset and sector knowledge, a great many haven’t taken the time to undertake formal training around their duties, which leaves ambiguity in the understanding of their role and its formal accountabilities. Additionally, with the cultural changes we have all faced over the past year, non-executive directors have emphasised the importance of transparency and collaboration, and to ensure these new dynamics work well in the new virtual environment.

This week, as we launch our new director course Preparing for a Non-Executive Directors’ Role, College Green Group director of professional development, Peter Pickin, outlines his thoughts on what it means to be a modern director.

Modern board directors are inherently curious, always asking questions of their peers, hungry for information so that they can make even more informed decisions about the business. Long term thinking and the ability to interrogate possibilities and outcomes are vital. 

Modern board directors want to be more informed and have an appetite for data, whether in the form of analytics, statistics or reports. Data forms the basis of strategic and tactical decisions and changes within the business, with a view to seizing opportunities or steering clear of crises.

Modern directors are knowledgeable of other directors’ competencies, duties and responsibilities to the business, and have the gravitas and confidence to credibly challenge the more technical questions. This willingness to challenge the status-quo can sometimes be seen as being disruptive, but will often lead to more innovation and collaboration between departments in the long run.

Modern directors are leaders. Not only are they an invaluable source of expertise and wisdom, they must also understand the people and culture of the business, and are able to align that with the company’s purpose and strategy.

Modern directors look to future-proof the business. While in the past directors often operated reflectively, always evaluating previous issues with a view to not repeating past mistakes, the amount of data and information now at our fingertips allows for a much more forward-looking approach. A modern director should have an eye on the future at all times, and have the strategic thinking skills to make best use of these data resources available. 

With so many more companies now starting to appreciate the input of a free-thinking, independent voice in the boardroom, our interactive programme provides both aspiring and existing non-executive directors an opportunity to explore the role in both theory and practice, and ensure they have the knowledge to make a positive impact to the board.

For more information about the topics explored in our Preparing for a Non-Executive Directors’ Role course click here.

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