Director Coaching

Top 10 questions to ask before becoming a NED (Part 1)

By: Dale Simpson

Embarking on the journey to becoming a Non-Executive Director (NED) can be an exciting career move, yet it should be approached with consideration and preparation. The role of a NED is complex, straddling the line between providing independent oversight and contributing strategic value.

In this article we will outline the top ten questions you should ask yourself, and the recruiters, before considering a NED position, empowering you with the knowledge to make informed decisions that align with your career goals and personal values.


1  What are the expectations of the role? 

NEDS play a pivotal role in the corporate governance of modern companies. They provide an independent perspective on the board, helping to ensure a balanced and well-rounded decision-making process. Here's an overview of their typical duties and responsibilities:






Remember, every NED role will look different depending on the organisation and its unique needs. Therefore, it's essential to understand the specific expectations and responsibilities associated with the role before you step into it.


2  How well do the company culture and values align with mine? 


As a Non-Executive Director you will be able to influence strategic decisions, guide the executive team, and interact with multiple stakeholders. Therefore, it is crucial that your personal values align with the culture and values of the company you are joining. This alignment fosters mutual respect and understanding, which is essential for effective collaboration and decision-making. It also helps ensure that the strategies and policies you endorse as a NED are consistent with the company's ethos. Furthermore, alignment with the company's culture contributes to your job satisfaction and engagement, which can significantly impact your performance and effectiveness as a NED.










Remember, understanding a company's culture isn't just about knowing what's written on their website. It's about digging deeper to understand how those values are lived out day-to-day within the organisation.


3  How much time am I expected to invest in the role? 

 The time commitment for a Non-Executive Director (NED) role can vary widely based on the organisation’s specific needs. Generally, NEDs are expected to commit a significant portion of their time towards understanding the business, contributing to board meetings, serving on committees, and staying updated with industry trends.


According to the UK's Institute of Directors, NEDs typically spend around 30 days per year on a role, including preparation and meeting time. However, this is an average figure, and the actual time commitment can be higher or lower depending on several factors.









As you consider a NED role, it's important to discuss the expected time commitment upfront and assess whether it fits with your other commitments and lifestyle. Remember, quality of contribution often matters more than quantity of time, so ensure you can devote enough time to make a meaningful impact.



4  What is the financial status of the organisation? 


Understanding the financial status of a company is crucial for several reasons:








As a Non-Executive Director, your understanding of the company's financial status will contribute to strategic discussions, risk management, and overall governance, thereby playing a significant role in the company's success.



5  Who are the other board members?

Knowing who the current board members are when applying for a Non-Executive Director (NED) position is crucial for several reasons.






In conclusion, knowing who's already on the board is a critical step in preparing for a NED role. It helps you understand the board's dynamics, assess how you can contribute, and evaluate whether the role would be a good fit for you.

So that's five of the ten top questions to ask to help you assess how suitable a NED role is for you. Another five to follow next week. 

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The Benefits Of Sitting On A Company's Board - Forbes

The 4 unexpected benefits of being on a board - Future Directors

Managing the Relationship With Your Fellow Trustees - BoardEffect

What Is the Importance of a Company's Financial Statements?