As a membership organisation, and the professional body for non-executive directors and board members in the UK, NEDonBoard and our team often receive similar queries and comments.
So, what does the NED community often ask us? If you’re looking to become a non-executive director, or are new to the role, the below might help – but remember, don’t be afraid to ask questions in your NED role! You’re there to constructively challenge and ask the right questions to better understand what an organisation and its executives are doing; and through good corporate governance, your experience and expertise, guide an organisation in the right direction for the benefit of the company and stakeholders.
Let’s start with one of the most common comments we hear – ‘my friend mentioned to me that maybe I should consider a NED role, so I’m just starting to look into this’. That’s great! But do you know exactly what a non-executive director is and what your duties and liabilities are? You need to ensure that you do your homework, because beware, as a non-executive director, you are still a Director of a company in the eyes of the law, and accountable as such.
The next question we often hear is – ‘I want to have more of a work life balance – how may days per year should I dedicate to a NED role?‘. This is an interesting question. A NED portfolio can be an excellent way to have a great, diverse career, and still have a work life balance. But. And it’s a big but – do not underestimate the time you need to dedicate to a NED role. The time commitment required by different organisations varies from just a few days per year, to a couple of days per week. You need to make sure that you are clear on how much time is required to do the role, and then factor in extra time should something important come up for the board which requires your further attention, as we often hear of such situations. NEDonBoard’s What to Expect of the NED Role guide, forming part of the NED Accelerator curriculum provides great perspective from non-executive directors themselves.
We might then expect to hear the following – ‘When can I expect to get a NED role?‘. This is like asking, how long is a piece of string? The good news is that if you have skills and experience which are of benefit to a board; you know how to brand yourself effectively and utilise your network; and you are proactive (this does not mean sitting around waiting for headhunters to come to you), as with any other career aspiration, you stand a good chance of becoming a non-executive director. But you’ve got to think – what can I contribute to a board, and how specifically do my skills benefit a particular board?