What does the boardroom need?
As such to thrive in this context the need to become a professional director is greater than ever, but actually appreciating the range of attributes required to perform at your best is the first step to success. While developing our new MBA designed for aspiring directors, we began to consider the qualities required to succeed in the boardroom. Looking at the current climate, there are ten main attributes which we identified as the most highly needed within organisations, through our work with professional directors, as per the diagram below:
Often within leadership development training there is an explicit focus on one or just a few of these attributes. We would argue that it is through the careful and sustained development of the entire collection of attributes that board directors and company leaders can best survive and thrive in ambiguous organisational contexts. Frequently, some of these attributes are merged and so their true value is not effectively considered. The areas of innovation and entrepreneurship are obvious examples, but the ability to try new ways of working and be innovative as opposed to simply replicating new ideas is certainly not just the preserve of the entrepreneur. While discussing the attributes with our dean professor Malcolm Kirkup, his vivid description of the requirements of the director being similar to being able to “nail jelly to the wall” in today’s complex business environment. This is an apt reminder that we have to remain agile and able to draw upon the full range at a moment’s notice.