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A non-executive director role has become a vital component to the success of many companies and organisations. So much so that it is now become a highly sort after position. It’s quite a unique role that requires a combination of skills and the experience and qualities seen in successful NED’s are vast. Whilst you may expect experience to give you the winning edge, although a certain level of business experience is of course essential, it is in fact the personal attributes that will see NEDs flourish in the role.

If you naturally possess these qualities, together with a sound business background, you are likely to be an extremely attractive candidate and do very well in a non-executive director role.

Big picture

The non-executive director position is an opportunity to provide a much needed, broad perspective. Where other board members may get caught up in the detail of running the company, the NED role is best placed to have an expanded strategic view point to drive and support the best way forward. However, a focus on detail is also required! Therefore, it becomes essential for NEDs to be able to easily switch from detail to big picture as and when required.

Adaptable

A flexible and adaptable approach to situations and tasks, can elevate the effectiveness of the NED role, as with all businesses, they evolve and change overtime and it is usually change that requires the boards attention. Therefore, the capacity to flex your approach as required to people and situations can provide much needed strength to the overall business.

Empathetic

The ability to be able to easily step into someone else’s shoes and view a situation, difficulty or decision from a range of perspectives can be of great value in the role of a NED. Dealing with a diverse range of people with different opinions and approaches, the attribute of empathy can elevate the effectiveness of the NED role by providing much needed fresh, unbiased perspectives and insights to the table.

Courageous

To address unhealthy or unproductive situations, it is imperative that NED is forthcoming with raising concerns about problems that are currently being avoided. Being able to identify, speak up and confidently articulate potential problems is an essential element to strong and successful business.

Diplomatic

As you would expect in any business, politics come into play some of the time. The role of a NED requires interaction, communication and relationships with a range of stakeholders. Therefore, the skill of diplomacy can be the difference between causing unnecessary conflict and diffusing potential escalation.

Analytical

Exhibiting solid logic and analytical skills is a quality that sees NEDs able to tackle the vast number of statistical aspects and multitude of parameters, with ease. Being able to delve into the detail of financial and legal/regulatory documentation and decipher data and spot trends, all allow NED to successfully plot long term strategies to steer the business in the best direction.

Independent

A NED is essentially an outsider to the business and not actually an employee of the company, so they need to be able to make independent judgments and think for themselves to a certain extent. This can bring great strength to the decision-making processes which can clearly have serious consequences on the organisation.

If you have found that you don’t have all these attributes and qualities, fear not! Whilst it can be easier to have these natural abilities, it is still possible to nurture and build these through experience and education. If you’re serious about succeeding in this career path, investing in new learning opportunities such as leadership training and personal development coaching can be a great way to further shape these qualities in yourself.