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Better Boards: Non Executives “don’t need no education”

  • October 2013

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Financial Times – Better Boards: Non Executives “don’t need no education”

Whilst executives round the boardroom table will have been through rigorous personal development, training, appraisals, performance evaluation, MBAs and more, the non-executives might have done little more than wander in. With the growth in corporate governance, and increase in the complexity and responsibility of boards, is there a need for more education of non-executives?

Andrew Roscoe, UK head of Egon Zehnder, the global search firm, sees possibilities for education in the boardroom and agrees that content – governance and regulation – and behavioural aspects are key. Each require learning and, says Roscoe, non-executives are improving. “We held a dinner and asked chairmen what they thought made a very good board member,” he says. “The thing they all agreed on was a behavioural point about how the individuals get their point across and are able to influence colleagues around the table.”

“Most boards have an onboarding programme – but there’s been a number recently that have asked for specific help and we’ve put together a detailed programme and facilitated it, which shows they are appreciating there’s more to being on a board than just assembling a cast of characters.”

“Educational tools used in executive development do not necessarily work for non-executives, due to the nature of the role,” Mr Roscoe says, “and the opportunities for rising executives to gain boardroom experience are reducing.”

“Not many people have a lot of board experience,” he says. “Partly because of governance rules and partly because of time. Individuals can’t chair many things and we’re seeing the average number of boards people sit on falling.”

“The window of time in which you can do it in your career is also relatively short, so individuals don’t actually amass a huge amount of experience sitting on boards. So whether it’s content education or behavioural education, there’s a lot of scope for it,” he added.

Full story: Better Boards: Non executives don’t need no education on and in “Financial Times” (2 and 3 October 2013).

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