How to be a great non-executive director

A non-executive director (NED) is a member of the board of directors of a company but does not form part of the executive management. NEDs do not have (day-to-day) executive responsibilities. However, they do have the same (purely) legal responsibilities as their executive colleagues.

NEDs contribute to the development strategy of the company and monitor executive activity. They support, objectively criticise and encourage the board. NEDs should focus on the long-term needs of the company, disregarding any personal squabbles. Their function is the 'view from above', that would contribute in the best possible way to survival and growth of the company.

Many companies will be seeking to fill a short-term skill shortage. Others will have ventures that require particular experience.

The ability to weigh up the facts and to present them in an assertive, tranquil manner in the face of adversity is very important. A good NED should be able to defend his/her position when challenged and present sound arguments.

The experience can be both financially attractive and beneficial to one's career (networking). NED appointments are usually for one day a month. Fees of several thousands EUR a day are not rare.