Exec to Non-Exec: How and When

OK, I admit it. I am always talent-spotting potential non-executive Directors so don’t be surprised if I ask you the question.

To my mind, there are plenty of great Executives and Senior Managers out there that can bring something fresh and incisive to a Board in non-executive role and in return gain strategic stretch and personal development as well as a broader insight and perspective (as well as an enhanced professional network). To be honest, it always surprises me when people have not considered taking on a non-executive role alongside the ‘day job.’ There is no right time to start if you have the appetite to contribute.  That said, I think there are some simple ground rules and questions you should apply when approached about an opportunity:

  • Is the timing right for me? Clearly not if you are also seriously considering moving jobs or if you are about to take a new job on.
  • What is the real-time commitment expected and can I realistically meet that expectation? This is much more important than whether the role is remunerated or not!
  • Am I interested in what the organisation does? While the experience of being a non-executive is valuable in itself, you will still need that bit of passion. If not, it will quickly become a real chore!
  • Will my employer give me permission to do this? If you are interested, then prepare the ground in advance. Almost all employers in the sector will allow you to do one non-executive role too, provided the time commitment is not too onerous. Two or more is pushing it!
  • Remunerated non-executive roles are not voluntary and there is a clear expectation not just of time but of accountability and performance too!

Over the years, we have persuaded many willing Executives within Housing to consider non-executive roles across the public and not for profit sectors including; LEPs and other Economic Development/Regeneration bodies, Further & Higher Education, Arts Culture & Heritage, NHS Foundation Trusts and of course other Housing Associations/RPs (where conflicts do not apply.) All have benefitted from the experience and at different stages in their careers, and have progressed into a portfolio of activities including more non-executive roles or have gone fully non-executive. I won’t name names but you know who you are!  The question is, could you benefit too?  

Jim Allcroft, Executive Search Consultant

Posted by Jim Allcroft

Jim Allcroft

Board Practice Housing, Infrastructure & Property


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