Mar 23 2017| Leadership | Values

Life in the Hot Seat

The Future for Non-Executive Directors; key issues from the Channel Islands NEDS Forum

by Phil Eyre Founder

Over 70 directors and leaders from across the Channel Islands gathered this week for the BL Global NEDs Forum.

I was invited to participate in a panel session on the ‘NED of the future’ alongside Chris Clark, CEO, Prosperity 24.7; Julie Coward, Client Services Director, First Names Group and Norson Harris, Director, ZEDRA Trust Company (Jersey).

It was a stimulating day with three key themes emerging from the sessions.

Diversity
Ensuring diversity of perspective is crucial for an effective board. Group thinking will curtail creativity and potentially magnify the impact of a crisis. The NED role in particular is to bring an outside, objective perspective; to shine a light on the critical issues and reveal any ‘elephants in the room'.

The NED Forum considered diversity from a variety of angles: gender, experience and stakeholder role. There appeared to be a desire to develop young people into board roles, the work of Board Apprentice is noteworthy, and there were many conversations around the idea of board-shadowing or even a shadow board, although not in the illegal sense!

My view is that an effective board will include younger people in an appointed board position, if they possess the critical leadership skills. From Leaders’ perspective, that includes passion, commitment, awareness and agility. The best boards are comprised of wise, experienced and ‘battle-worn’ directors as well as younger, ‘savvy’ individuals. This brings a diverse perspective whilst providing for succession and for the business to flourish in the long term.

Technology Awareness
High-profile data and technology-related problems have resulted in a recognition of the need for boards to be more intentional about considering technology-related opportunity and risk.

Whether a disruptive opportunity or threat, or a cyber-attack risk, the modern world demands a digital focus. Yet many boards remain lightweight in this area. For some, a technology specialist director would provide the solution. For others, receiving good advice is sufficient.

I think there is also a different, or additional, point to consider: that the board needs to have a desire to grow, change and travel. Success requires constant movement - at varying paces. Phenomenal performance is not achieved by standing still or arriving at a given destination. Goals should constantly be stretched. As has always been the case in history, technological improvements accelerate the pace of change. But boards that don’t really want to change will never embrace technology as an opportunity. Settling for ‘good enough’ is not good enough.

Leadership Quality
I was delighted that essential ‘human factor’ skill was in focus during the day, right from the opening panel session. Leadership requires essential skills as much, if not more, than technical skills. Establishing and promoting (including modelling) behaviours and attitudes that create the environment and culture that allows the business to flourish is core to board-level responsibility.

Being able to challenge well, with wisdom, integrity and humility, is at the basis of long-term success. Being highly self-aware, team-aware, market-aware and customer-aware is very important for NEDs. This includes an awareness of when to remove yourself from a certain role and move on.

The session on handling a crisis further underscored the emphasis on emotionally intelligent leadership. Defensive denial nearly always magnifies a problem whereas leaders who respond with humility, objectivity and empathy solve issues far more effectively.

Leaders
Enhancing emotional intelligence and harnessing human factors is what we do in partnership with our clients, all with the aim of advancing and achieving phenomenal performance. We work with board directors, NEDs, C-suite executives and future leaders. To find out more, please contact me via phil@leadersconsultancy.co.uk
or on 07781 169611.

About The Author | Phil Eyre

Phil is Leaders’ founder. He has an enthusiastic and inspiring style, drawing on his experience in business, academia and social sectors to help any leadership team to achieve phenomenal performance. Phil has sophisticated expertise in psychometrics and in the application of human data for individual, team and organisational success. He has trained with, and been mentored by, global leaders in this field, notably Dr Chuck Coker in the US. Phil began his career in the UK offshore finance industry in 1994, working for a wealth management company in Guernsey, Collins Stewart (CI) Limited, now Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil was head of the company's Guernsey division, with a staff of 120 and assets under management of £4.5billion before resigning from executive responsibilities in 2008. Phil has served on the boards of three charities, including BMS World Mission, a UK charity with over 80 employees and a global reach. Phil also ran the Guernsey hub of a national theology college, received accreditation as a pastor in the Baptist Union of Great Britain and served as a non-executive director for Canaccord Genuity Wealth International. Phil is a member of the NED Forum and the Institute of Directors.

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