A great Non-Executive Director makes a real difference to the company, they have a speedy impact on the business and the board behaviour. As such you need to be alert to identifying opportunities for change, improvements and for critical issues inside and outside the organization. This is often easier than it may appear.
For one thing you are a fresh pair of eyes and as such may quite easily see something that those board members immersed in the business have failed to spot. It really is the old adage of wood and trees. Until you start the role, they are likely going to be unaware of what these might be but from day one your red alert button needs to be switched on.
As a paid NED it’s entirely possible that your daily rate is the same as an executive’s monthly salary or at least approaching that. Whilst you will certainly be providing far more than you’re contracted for, time wise – it’s entirely probable you will at least by some until you prove your worth be considered a large expense.
My plan is always to attempt to identify some issue that I can assist in rectifying, or some area of improvement I can suggest at every meeting as a starter. However, I am always on high alert externally to spot other opportunities I can advise my board about or affect productive introductions.
These could and should be anything that will add value and could include:
Some industry intelligence.
A best practice process you have seen work successfully elsewhere.
A new potential customer supplier or member of staff.
If you have a specific related skill for instance people management then some suggestion on staff engagement you have seen work effectively elsewhere may be advantageous.
As you become a regular at a number of boards then you will see first-hand good and bad practices and sharing these on multiple boards is not only very helpful but hugely satisfying.