We are never too old to learn

We’re coming to the end of our ‘Top 10 Steps to Being an Effective Director’ series of blogs and I sincerely hope it has been a learning journey.

Which, conveniently, allows us to segue to our final topic – and that’s a desire to continue to learn, continue to improve.

Research, empirical and anecdotal, has long highlighted the fact that we’re at our best when constantly engaged in personal and professional development. We’re never too old to learn and those directors who adhere to this truism are invariably at the top of their game.

Continuous improvement for board members comes in two forms – personal evaluation and ongoing education.

With the former, we’re regularly exposed to either self-evaluation or evaluation carried out by others, in most cases an external consultant. We’re appraised on our character, as well as on our knowledge and experience relevant to the organisation we serve. Our competence and good judgement is also assessed; along with our diligence, our conscientiousness and our collegiate nature that makes us a valuable team player.

When conducted by an external consultant, it’s customary that each director gets to see the results of all the other directors (no names, just results). They’re also notified of the director average and the highest and lowest scores, which gives them a good feel for where they sit in relation to their colleagues.

It’s a great way of disclosing areas where particular directors may need to enhance their knowledge or, in the worst of cases, crystallising whether someone needs to be given the flick!

Turning to education, astute boards appreciate that induction programs for new members and regular information sessions presented by senior management are but a starting point, a bare minimum.

And while the traditional approach to professional development – where external experts run sessions with the board as a whole and on topics of benefit to all board members, or where the board attends external seminars, programs or conferences – still has a role to play, it does throw up a number of taxing challenges.

We’re a time-poor lot these days, with a staggering 80 per cent of board members telling us that while they value ongoing education, they simply can’t find the time for it in their busy schedules.

Then there’s what I’ll call ‘the embarrassment factor’. It’s widely accepted that some directors, less than proficient in certain areas, are loathe to expose their shortcomings in the traditional public educational forums but would gladly embrace professional improvement programs delivered to them online and in the privacy of their homes.

That’s where a new age tool such as our Board Minded program is increasingly playing a vital role across corporate, government and NGO boards. A world-first online portal subscription service, it’s designed to provide subscribers with a broad selection of presentations, delivered by some of the best brains in the business, which they’re free to watch as a group or individually, as often as they please and always at a time – and in an environment – that’s most convenient.

And just a button click away!

Until next time,
Kate.

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