How to Determine Whether You Have the Skills
Consider carefully both what you have to offer a board, and what most interests you:
Be objective. When you think about yourself, think about how your particular experience and skills will be relevant for a Non-Executive Director role. For example, do you have finance expertise which would be useful for an audit committee role? Are there particular areas of public life where your sector or functional knowledge could add value?
Time commitment. What level of commitment can you make? All board will usually require the highest time commitment. Should a crisis arise, the commitment can increase substantially.
Support. Do you have the support of your current employer? They will need to release you for a number of days per year, and there may be little or no control over which days these will be. Some companies have very clear policies as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that will actively encourage and help individuals find Non-Executive Director roles; especially those that work within the communities that they serve.
Be honest. What is your motivation? Is this something you really want to do, or simply feel you should do? Are you enthusiastic about the idea of committing your time and energy?
If you find your motivation to be strong, seek experiences that will prepare you for a Non-Executive Director role. For example, you can join internal company boards or committees, or even consider getting involved on a local level with third sector organisations; maybe even your children’s primary school as a Governor? All of these experiences will enable you to grow and learn about the role of a Board and the impact that individuals can have as part of a working party.
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The Non-Executive Director Role
Non-Executive Directors play a crucial role in bringing an independent perspective to the boardroom, alongside any specific knowledge and expertise they have. They have a duty to uphold the highest standards of integrity and probity and to foster good relations in the boardroom. Non-Executive Directors have a range of duties and responsibilities, including but not limited to:
- Work alongside other non-executives and executive colleagues as an equal member of the Board. Ensuring that the Board of Directors conforms to the highest standards of corporate governance and makes appropriate decisions
- Bring independence, external perspectives, skills and challenge to strategy development
- Hold the executive to account by providing purposeful, constructive scrutiny and challenge
- To lead or participate in other committees or sub-Groups of the Board charged with specific activities to support delivery of services – such as: Quality; Finance & Investment; Audit; and Nominations & Remuneration
- To uphold the values of the Trust and to be an appropriate role model
Senior leadership experience is required for NHS NED roles, this may be at board level or equivalent in a large or complex organisation.
Participants should have the following skills and abilities:
- Ability to quickly gain an understanding of healthcare issues and how large-scale organisations operate under the NHS
- Ability to analyse complex information, with strong analytical and problem-solving skills
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills. The ability to work in a team to meet common goals and utilise skills and experience to benefit the organisation
- Ability to assess strategies in order to reach objectives
- Astute, able to grasp relevant issues and understand the relationships between interested parties
- Commitment to good corporate governance
- Commitment to NHS values and principles