A non-executive director (NED) must offer the right skill set, the right mind-set and several key qualities in order to offer value to any company.

What You Should Know about Picking the Right Non-Executive Director Non-Executive DirectorNon-executive directors play essential roles within many businesses. However, for anyone considering bringing one of these professionals into a company, it’s vital that the right individual is chosen.  What You Should Know about Picking the Right Non-Executive Director? Here’s a brief rundown of how to ensure you’re making the right choice.

Executive Experience

Perhaps the most important quality for any non-executive director to have is, well, executive experience. This is vital, as without experience in a range of executive positions, the individual will be unable to fulfil his or her role adequately. Ideally, the NED will offer executive experience not found with other board members, in order to “round-out” the board.


It might seem a contradiction in terms, but the non-executive director chosen should have an independent view of the business and the board’s considerations, while still holding views, ideals and opinions that are in line with the business’ efforts, projects, values and actions. This ensures that the business benefits from an independent point of view (which can bring much-needed clarity), as well good judgment concerning those on-going actions and projects.

Shareholder Advocate

While an NED works on behalf of the business hiring him or her, they also work on behalf of the company’s shareholders. In this role, they work as an advocate, asking questions and challenging decisions or actions on the company’s part on behalf of shareholders. This ensures that the business remains in line with shareholder ideals, while still pursuing the business’ core objectives. Essentially, they keep everything on track.

Applying Skills

Part of bringing a non-executive director aboard is to benefit from their skillset. However, what skills should that individual possess? There are many vital skills that any candidate you’re considering should have, including extremely strong interpersonal and communication skills, as well as collaboration skills. Non-executive directors should also possess in-depth knowledge of the business and the market in which the business is involved.

Characteristics of a Good NED

Finally, we come to the list of characteristics a good non-executive director should possess. These are just as important as the individual’s skillset – more so in some respects. While skills can be learned through education and experience, characteristics are another matter. One person might possess the skills you need, but lack vital characteristics that would ensure they offer the desired value to your firm. For example:

  • Ability and willingness to stand up to executives and board members. They cannot be a “yes man” – they must have an independent spirit and the ability to challenge when necessary.
  • Supportiveness. While they need to be able to challenge projects, actions and decisions, they also need to throw their support behind those same things when appropriate.
  • Finally, they should have a significant sense of integrity to their mission.

To discuss if your company could benefit from a non-executive director, please mail us today at micheal@mentors.ie or call 01 8058053


SPECIAL GUEST BLOG by Tony Ritchie, Management Mentor, Mentors.ie