The role of a non-executive director (NED) should include ensuring that:
- There is a robust strategy for the ownership and development of the business and that there is an ongoing regular process for monitoring, reviewing and refining the strategy
- The business has the necessary resources in place in line with its strategy, especially in the key areas of human and financial resources.
- There is an appropriate system in place by which the business is directed and controlled (corporate governance) and a high standard of relationship with external stakeholders.
Furthermore, a non-executive director or NED should add value by:
- Bringing an independent perspective to the business along with a broader, external view of matters
- Being a confidential sounding board and playing the role of ‘devil’s advocate’ to the senior executives of the business.
- Helping the executive team to achieve their business plans by providing support in whatever form is appropriate given the non-executive’s background, experience and network of contacts
Regarding the qualities of a good non-executive director, if you read the many books and articles, the list is endless and conjures up the image of some super human being – our view however, and what we look for, are three main qualities:
- Judgement – sound judgement, including understanding of timing and relative value, based on solid experience (including mistakes)
- Empathy – a preparedness to listen (ahead of speaking) and appreciate but not be swayed by every different opinion along with the patience to develop things at the speed appropriate to the company concerned
- Integrity – honest and straightforward, consistent and reliable irrespective of the circumstances the audience or the pressures
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