Key findings

Harvey Nash / Alumni Board Report 2016/17

The Changing Board

Non-executives are required to be more involved in delivery, and digital skills will be the most required specialist competency for non-executives over the next five years. Candidates who bring specialist expertise and experience of emergent technologies will be in high demand and short supply.

- Widen the talent search for non-executives
- Incorporate digital onto the risk agenda
- Clearly identify skills gaps in the boardroom

What Makes a Good Chair?

Soft skills such as emotional intelligence, diplomacy and listening are rated as far more necessary qualities in an effective chair than the traditional traits of authority, industry experience and leadership. Fostering a supportive, listening culture in the boardroom ranks as the number one skill chairs should seek to develop. Chairs must:

- Model inclusive behaviours
- Be digital aware
- Strengthen bonds with principal executives

Facing Up to Digitisation

Boards have an ever-increasing need to understand, anticipate and mitigate for disruptions beyond those of simple cyber security but also business transformations and technology spending.

- Recognise and plan for digital vulnerabilities
- Widen the search for digital talent
- Acknowledge that taking digital risks can bring great rewards

The Inclusive Boardroom

Organisations need to think bigger and educate leaders to draw from the richness of perspectives that diversity brings. Diverse expertise can be found with the right approach to fostering development and well-connected executive search partnerships.

- Create an inclusive organisation, starting with the boardroom
- Acknowledge that demonstrating inclusion starts at the top
- Develop, retain and support diverse talent at all levels of the organisation

Measuring the Effectiveness of Boards

Boards have made no real commitment to broadening their reach to a wider pool of talent when it comes to new appointments since last year. They are also no more likely to conduct independent evaluations of their effectiveness.

- Seek talent beyond known networks
- Introduce board evaluation gradually
- Use mentoring and on-boarding to widen the talent pool of executives