Having interviewed FTSE 100 Chairman, Alastair Lyons, CBE, following a NEDonBoard panel evening, there are some clear skills and considerations which best enable a NED to connect with fellow board members and carry out their role and responsibilities. Following on from Part I, Part II highlights the importance of engaging with the management informally.
What would you consider to be a priority for NEDs entering a new position?
A: If there’s one thing which I don’t feel that non-executive directors have sufficiently high on their priority [list], it is actually spending time with the management informally in the business, just getting exposure to what is top of mind for the management. What are the things that they’re concerned about? How do they relate to the other members of the executive team?
For me, the time that non-executives spend informally, the time that I as a chairman spend informally in the business, is far more important than the time I actually spend in a board meeting, because it’s through spending time informally that I actually understand what the issues are in the business. I understand where the individuals who are going to be the talent of the future in the business are; who are going to be the new leaders of the business; I understand what it is, then, that the board in the board meeting should actually be spending their time focused on and discussing. You don’t get that always purely through the formal reports, which come in the board papers at meetings.
Which raises the question readers – when was the last time that you spent time informally in the company where you are a NED? It may be worth penning sometime in the diary to do just that.