New boardroom career options during economic recession

 Fuente:    Fecha:   05.05.2009

People with the right qualities can develop an alternative career as a director
New boardroom career options during economic recession

People who could contribute to boardroom discussions are overlooking opportunities to develop a directorial career according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas. Speaking at Leeds United Football Club the author of ‘Developing Directors’ claimed: “While new managerial jobs are scare and much fought over during recession, many boards always have opportunities for new members who could add value.”

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, an active consultant and experienced chairman of award winning companies, explains: “Boards are only limited in size by the practicalities of finding suitably qualified people and a desire not to become unwieldy. There isn’t an upper limit on size. Many people do not put themselves forward for consideration because they do not realise they might have the qualities to make an effective contribution.”

According to Coulson-Thomas direction is different from management. A good manager can make a poor director. Annual reviews tend to focus upon the next step of a managerial career rather than the distinct qualities needed to become a competent director. Directorial qualities can be found at many levels in organisations.

His research suggests that many corporate, public and voluntary sector boards would benefit from additional members. Boards exist in various forms. Owners of some small and medium sized companies might need persuading of the merits of an independent director, but school boards are often looking for volunteers.

Coulson-Thomas considers: “A period of recession can be a good time to review options and think about what might be required, from the duties and responsibilities of a director to the personal qualities likely to be sought in a new board member.”

Surveys for ‘Developing Directors’ suggest directors need strategic awareness and communication skills. They have to look ahead, see a company as a whole and understand the context within which it operates, when formulating a vision, providing strategic direction, and building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders.

Coulson-Thomas says that personal qualities sought also include integrity, determination, independence, objectivity, balance, commitment, individuality, sensitivity, ethical awareness, accountability and responsibility. Directors need the drive to move an organisation forward, certain legal and financial knowledge, and an awareness of boardroom issues and practice and relevant governance requirements.

He finds: “To be effective in the boardroom, a director must also command the respect of colleagues. Development activities should focus upon honing and demonstrating strategic awareness and perception, thinking, decision making, communication and inter-personal skills.”

Coulson-Thomas advises that preparation for a particular boardroom requires an understanding of the business environment, the specific company’s situation including how its directors are selected, appraised, remunerated and developed, how its board operates and the contribution a new director is expected to make.

A first appointment to a board can represent an initial step of a directorial career that might involve executive and non-executive roles. Coulson-Thomas’ book ‘Developing Directors’ suggests development steps at each stage and emphasises the importance of monitoring developments and remaining alert, relevant and up to date.