Transitioning from Executive to Non-Executive

Transitioning from Executive to Non-Executive

The New Normal

In normal times there’s usually an element of excitement around the beginning of a new year; we re-assess our goals, make plans and envision where we’ll be by the end of the new year.  In normal times……  For those that find security in a degree of certainty “now” feels anything but, any vague idea of what the future looked like for any of us has been thrown in the air.  And so now, we have to discover our future, one choice at a time.

Perhaps you’d got to that stage in your executive career, where you were no longer striving or competing, you were able to take your foot off the gas a little and spend some time investing and teaching others on the basis of the knowledge you’ve gained, maybe even starting to think about retirement…… and then, just like that, Covid appeared and completely changed your landscape.   Relaxing now seems like the last thing you should be doing, you’ve just woken up and sleepwalking your way into retirement doesn’t seem like a choice or even an option.

So what’s the alternative?

As you reassess your executive career, it may have been suggested by others that given your skills, experience and knowledge building a portfolio career might be an option.   Making a rewarding contribution to other organisations, earning money, and still remaining a vital part of the business community sounds very appealing, right?

Ok, what’s the catch?

Well yes it sounds ideal and is a great alternative if you’re not ready for retirement and a way of taking back control if your career is now on shaky ground but as with most things there’s usually “a catch” and it’s always worth being fully aware of what those things before you make the leap.

The Non-Executive World is a very different place.

In your “executive” shoes you understand what’s going on and have access to everything you need.  You’ve probably spent years building good relationships with your teams and you’ve earnt the  respect you rightly deserve.

You need to be aware that life isn’t like that in the non-executive world.  You are now more on the edge of a business, neither an insider nor an outsider, people will be more guarded about the information they  give you, and you’ll need to adjust your interpersonal skills accordingly and you’ll need to be very honest with yourself as to how well you’ll be able to handle that.  Being on the edge or rim of a business is not easy, it’s a difficult position to maintain but it’s vital that you learn how to do it if you are going to add real  value as a non-executive.  So think about the different cultures of companies, perhaps the company you’re in right now would be a good place to start – consider what you would need to do differently to be an effective non-executive

The Non-Executive World can be a lonely place.

The workplace is where you connect with others, you share common ideas, background, understandings and many of your colleagues you consider friends.  It’s how businesses work. Well, you’ll have to learn to say goodbye to that way of life and that isn’t easy.  Belonging is a basic and major human need and it’s a very difficult adjustment to move away from that.

Whilst places like NXD are great to network with other NED’s in the same position it’s never going to be as inter-connected a group as the workplace, simply owing to the fact that we don’t meet as regularly (and certainly not in these strange times).  You’ll need to assess whether your personality is robust enough to handle this but talking to other NED’s and how they approached the transition will help you to understand what’s needed to make the move.

The Jekyll and Hyde Role

Jekyll plays the role of promoting the success of the organisation – planning strategy and looking at how the team can improve performance.

Hyde plays the auditing role – ensuring suitable systems and financial reports are in place, evaluation of pay.  In short Hyde is all about corporate governance.

And that, is a very tricky balance and will require a specific approach.

Don’t get involved

If you’re of the mind that if you want anything done properly then you’ll have to do it yourself.  Being a non-executive is definitely not for you!  The frustration will kill you.  Being a non-executive is advising what needs to be done and then moving out the way so others can get on and do it.  You need to consider your own talents and skills and work out where they sit in relation to being an adviser, this will give you an understanding of which roles would be most suitable for you.

If this has given you food for thought, then it might be worth visiting our FAQ page for more information or why not give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss this further with you

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