With a sharp mind, you’re a cut above in the director stakes

We all know that most board members are, more often than not, appointed on the basis of the specific skills or expertise they have in the sector in question, along with a strong reputation as a contributor at executive level.

And while that’s likely to ensure the board is populated with good and competent people, it doesn’t necessarily take it to rarified heights.

For that, you need directors with the aforementioned attributes plus a sharp, enquiring mind and an insatiable thirst for learning.

That’s when you get directors who are a cut above…and in turn, a board that’s incisive in every sense.

In my many years in the governance field, I’ve seen it time and again – those that make great board members love to learn. They feed their enquiring minds each and every day, consuming publications associated with their specific sector, as well as general business and financial media that cover a raft of everyday issues but at a more strategic level.

I’m thinking here of reads such as The Australian Financial Review, The Economist and the Harvard Business Review, which soon become their staple diet as they get to grips with and gain valuable insights into topics like cyber security, crisis management, employee share options and the like.

And, of course, they stay abreast of events and are equipped to make regular and resounding contributions.

Personally, when I first started reading the Australian Financial Review, I found it tough going. But I persevered and soon grew to love it…eventually becoming something of an ‘addict’ as I was learning so much and significantly broadening my mind and my horizons.

These days, before I present a governance session, I make a habit of reading the daily newspaper in the city I’m visiting, to get a feel for what local issues – both business and current affairs – are the hot button topics and then feed these into my sessions.

It’s a great way to kick things off and engage the participants as it’s a universal truth that people warm when you show an interest in them and their worlds.

Lest any of you form the wrong impression, may I add that I’m not all studious and bookish and have been known to spend a fair amount of time perusing the fashion pages, too. The trick now is to figure out how to weave haute couture creations and my sartorial side into these sessions…

While on a lighter note, let’s bring this blog to a close with a quick no-pressure 10 acronyms quiz.

You all know what the following stand for, don’t you?

ACTU… AEDT…ASADA…CHOGM…DFAT…ETS… GEARS…HREOC…OECD… SMSF…

And, of course, KISS!

Okay, that’s 11 – and I’m not quite finished yet. My final bit of advice on keeping your mind in showroom condition, especially if you’re a novice in the world of the boardroom, is this:

An enquiring mind begins with being inquisitive about what it takes to develop into a better director, the best possible director you can be. It all starts with doing a company director’s course or subscribing to something like Governance Matters’ new world-first online portal subscription service, Board Minded, that’s carefully designed to keep time-poor members skilled in best practice governance.

Until next time,
Kate.

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