10 Questions to ask a prospective Board Member in 2018

By Warwick Peel, Co-founder and Chief Connection Officer //

“Can somebody stop saying disruption, cyber attacks, Artificial Intelligence, Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and climate risk? It’s doing my head in?”

These are the words of those boardrooms stuck in the 1980’s and while many were born well before that (oops, so was I), it’s time we understood what Director mindsets we really need for high-performing cultures and the Future of the Boardroom. With Amazon arrived, Atlassian an Australian global company and the likes of Uber and AirBnB household platforms that many Australian consumers use, it is time we stood up and took notice, we need to think globally, and take risks to win.

So what kind of questions do you need to ask your potential new recruits? Here are 10 questions you can (and should) ask every prospective board member to excel in the new economy:

  1. What do you see as the disruptive forces impacting this organisation, and how do you stay relevant as a director?
  2. What experiences have given you a global perspective and where do you have international reach?
  3. What are the major risks for tomorrow’ boards and how do you equip yourself to be across these risks?
  4. What makes our mission meaningful to you and how will your purpose align to the company’s shared values?
  5. What are some of your prior leadership experiences where you’ve moved the dial, shifted mindsets and ultimately, influenced decisions?
  6. What skills, connections, resources, and expertise do you have to offer to navigate the organisation through the new economy?
  7. What are your concerns about joining the board or threats you see coming for the directors to see as issues to be considered?
  8. Do you have personal aspirations or perceived conflicts of interest that could be by board service?
  9. How important is socially interacting with other members to harness team dynamics for the board? (As one of the nation’s respected directors, Diane Smith-Gander, will say, she wish she knew day 1 on her first board, that the board needs to operate as a team to be most effective). Watch this episode of The Resolution.
  10. What motivates you? (In this question, you want to see their focus towards stewardship of the organisation and what is in the best interests of stakeholders, not themselves. While we need determined and ambitious leaders, in the context of directors, you want to understand they have the business interests as priority number one, not their ego.)

What should the interviewer know?

As you interview potential board members, you’ll need to understand the major risks and opportunities of your organisation. You’ll need to be able to see that they demonstrate a strong grasp of what the risks are today and what lies ahead. Don’t be tempted to downplay your expectations to recruit a non-committal “big name” board member, really probe into their motivations and identify their level of commitment, their availability and capacity to deliver.

The team behind Future Directors Institute also run a company called NED, (a play on non-executive director, meaning new economy director). We are a new form of director search firm specialising in Future Directors.

When recruiting directors for boards we apply a character first, skills and experience second approach. Underpinned with Gallup Strengths, we use our proprietary EQUIP model to uncover a candidate’s character and identify if they have shared values with the hiring organisation. EQUIP stands for:

EQ – emotional intelligence
U – universality
I – integrity
P – purpose

So, in 2018, make sure culture is an imperative in your selection, and to stay ahead of the game. Identify the innovation and disruptive futures thinkers who are going to see the blind spots that nobody is thinking about. Because with disruption, it is not about managing risk through the rear view mirror but about taking risks through the front windscreen.

Are You Ready to Transform Your Board for the New Economy?
Future Directors Institute will teach you to think like a Director embracing the New Economy and NED Non-Executive search (& Startup Boardroom) is building a NED Marketplace of ASX and even HKSE, NYSE, NASDAQ, private equity, VC, and Startup Directors to assist boards with their non-executive appointments to navigate the new economy, disruption and the digital economy.

Contact Warwick Peel if your board is undergoing board renewal, would like to conduct a Board Matrix assessment or is seeking to appoint a Non-Executive.