The benefit of senior level Non Executive support in organisations is well promoted these days, yet it has its share of challenges. Non Executives are really Directors whether they have a title or not, as most likely they contribute to strategic direction. Although they don't have direct responsibility for day to day management, they do influence those making decisions.
One of the main challenges that organisations face in the selection process is 'fit'. The truth is that those with a great range of experience on paper may not necessarily fit certain environments or teams. There are a number of examples where this has been tried and tested with the selection failing in a very public manner.
SME's and those with strong family involvement are sometimes reluctant to openly welcome Non Executive Directors (NED's) into businesses for a number of reasons. Often family business dynamics make it difficult to introduce outsiders to the sensitive side. There is also a level of scepticism present too with some NED's developing something of a notorious track record and occasionally possessing questionable motives.
However, that said there is still a growing trend to retain experienced Non Executive Directors in a wide range of companies with many success stories on record.
A Non Executive with the ability to connect with the wide and diverse range of personalities is a key ingredient for success. It's also important that the NED gains respect easily, has good facilitation and negotiating skills, along with a successful and varied background. Put these all together and any organisation will most likely benefit and perform better as a result.
The Non Executive works with an existing Executive team who are tasked with making the big day-to-day decisions on the ground. Like any important strategic process with far reaching implications, having a confidential sounding board and an objective contributor on hand to assist with complex decisions is without doubt beneficial.
The Non Executive with the right set of motives is clearly a valuable resource to any organisation experiencing growth, change or crisis.
The most successful are those who sit outside of company politics and internal lobby groups. It's so easy to get involved with something that stirs passion, whether a perceived injustice or a poor decision, yet exercising constraint is an important quality of the seasoned Non Exec.
That's why the strength of the Non Executive is objectivity. Their unbiased nature, offering 'counsel' rather than 'opinion' is what sets this function apart. The more structured organisations use the board room table for many such discussions, but others benefit from coaching input from an Non Exec on a more frequent basis. Either way support is worth considering as the selection of an experienced NED helps even the most under pressure senior teams stay calm and composed through change.
If you are an evolving organisation not content with the status quo, then why not consider at least exploring the option of Non Executive support. When entered into wisely, the benefits far outweigh the negatives every time.