We are living through challenging times, never charted before. Covid-19 has turned the world upside down, creating many new problems and issues to be dealt with. But It could well be a time of great change with new opportunities emerging for groups who hitherto were not even thinking of becoming a non-executive director.

Whoever you are, if a role as a non-executive director appeals to you, now is the time to start the process of testing whether it’s for you and if so, how you can become a non-executive director.

A good starting point to consider these questions is to understand the role of a non-exec. Although the precise role will depend on the other skills around the board table and the type of company/business you look at, there are some aspects to the role that all non-execs are expected to have.

These include being able to contribute to board issues as they emerge, indeed being able to help guide and facilitate the process towards a decision. They must also be able to participate in both governance matters and risk assessment and its management. Indeed, in some industries, particularly the finance industry, an understanding of governance is very important.

Of course, they have a key role in overseeing both the business month to month and also the performance of the management team, notably the CEO.

So, a non-executive director must have some specific skills such as being able to think clearly about strategy and be commercially smart. On some occasions, they will be faced with a new matter and may not have been able to prepare for the issue. Nevertheless, they will be expected to contribute so they have to think on their feet and of course communicate in a clear manner for all concerned. One thing they should certainly not do is to try to run the business or second guess the management team.

Before doing anything, it’s very important to assess what your own skills and capabilities are and to compare them with those skills that are important for a non-executive to have. If the match is reasonable then is the time to start the process of getting yourself “match fit” to finding the right non-executive position and ensuring that when successful you quickly assimilate the role and the company’s affairs.

Having been both an executive and a non-executive director I appreciate how important both roles are within a company boardroom. Now as a coach, I’m able to assist executives to become non-executives and perform well in their new role.

If you’d like to learn more about this and to use in these uncertain times contact me at andrewkenneth@mac.com.