Building a Leadership Pathway to Effective Directorship

Being a non-executive director is not just about turning up to board meetings and making sure that the governance processes are in good order. Effective directors must pursue a personal career development plan that enables them to perform at their best, and contribute meaningfully to the boards they serve.         

If awareness and foresight sit at the heart of effective Director Performance, then continuous and critical self-assessment of one’s ability allows you as a director to bring yourself to the board in a way that best serves and adds maximum value to the group.  A clear pathway for making this happen is an effective director career development plan.

Governance has received increased media scrutiny in recent times, one consequence of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), prompting astute boards to undertake a more introspective view of governance, performance and leadership.

Most directors would probably agree that while our role requires a significant measure of leadership ability, we sometime struggle to articulate the specific attributes that relate to ourselves, both as an individual director, and with respect to the rest of the board.  A great article written by Loizos Heracleous back in 1999 discusses “… the relevance and applicability of leadership research in enhancing our understanding of directors’ functioning and effectiveness.”  Heracleous speaks about the traits for leadership and directorship as being synonymous and draws the link through observation of board behaviour as part of a longitudinal study.  Two key attributes for Directors are Self and Group Awareness and Strategic Thinking.

Significant failures in board performance can occur when we do not take the time to understand the collective capability of our fellow directors and the ensuing board dynamics.  For example, working with the Defence Force has taught me that a team must be fully cognizant of its capabilities and personal traits if it is to fully understand the team limitations.  It forms a key part of the introduction to leadership training.  None of this is possible without a sound knowledge of self and group.  Directors would do well to follow this lead.

A wise commentator once said that, “managers resolve problems upon arrival, whilst leaders resolve problems prior to arrival (while they still present as mere challenges).”  Strategic foresight has been a recurring topic of discussion when speaking with Directors about what they see as a central requirement of their board. Susan Oliver, a futurist and professional non-executive director not only champions this view but also advocates integrating this insight into how boards see their performance.

As part of Bravo Consulting’s Director Pathway program, we can assist non-executive directors develop and apply these leadership traits in their own professional practice and board roles.

Posted by Dale Simpson

If you are seeking a board position, or making the transition to a non-executive role, please contact Bravo Consulting about how we can help you achieve your career development goals.


BonnieSue Nevin

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