Great Chairs and exceptional NEDs

Leadership consultancy specialists Whitehead Mann Partnership have published two guidance documents that may be of interest to healthcare board members.

The first, What makes a great board Chairperson? is based on interviews with 215 mainly current directors of either FTSE 100, FTSE 250, large private companies, private equity companies or public sector bodies. They expressed views about a wide range of Chairpersons they have experienced. Nearly two thirds of the interviewees were either a Chief Executive or a Chairperson. Whitehead Mann’s research suggests ten qualities or skills that all Chairpersons are assumed to have as a prerequisite for getting the job:

1. Thinks strategically
2. Skill to handle media & external pressure groups
3. Executive and Non-Executive Director experience
4. Commands respect and can be taken seriously
5. Gets involved constructively but not into detail
6. High standards of personal accountability /values / ethics
7. Well networked for promotion of organisation
8. Personal presence
9. Intelligent
10. Cool under pressure / can take over in crisis

The second, What makes an exceptional NED? is based on interviews with 124 Chairpersons, Chief Executives, investors and NEDs – who together sit on 552 boards and organisations in the UK. Whitehead Mann’s research has produced a framework comprising ten ‘X Factors’ for exceptional Non-Executive performance as follows:

1. A breadth of experience
2. Team players who leave their ego at the door
3. Independent advisers able to challenge and support
4. Committed and prepared
5. Articulate communicators and good listeners
6. Sharp minds and good judgment
7. Visionary, creative and passionate about business
8. Build strong relationships and act as ambassadors
9. Self-confident without being dogmatic
10. Enhance their contribution through feedback

According to Whitehead Mann, “These factors are not stand-alone or one-offs, but are intertwined. The best NEDs have all these factors, in the right mix to suit their particular profile and situation. There isn’t “one size fits all”.”

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