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Do We Need New Competencies in the Boardroom and C-Suite?

Posted by Felix Assivo on
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Do We Need New Competencies in the Boardroom and C-Suite?

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This article is an excerpt from the Future Boardroom Competencies 2020 Report compiled by Competent Boards and provided by Helle Bank Jorgensen, CEO and Founder.  This is part 1 of a 2 part series and is a companion to her interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Future Boardroom Competencies that will air on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021.  If you would like to read the entire report, it can be downloaded for free here.

FOREWARD

There is no telling what will define the business landscape post-pandemic. However, the trend remains clear. The foundation on which our global economic systems and governance practices have been built is nearing expiry.

With a heightened sense of urgency surrounding environmental, social, and humanitarian problems, there is an elevated sense of societal pressure on leading organizations and their board of directors to take action.

The future of good corporate governance has begun to outgrow the notion of transactional thinking with respect to decision making. Serving board of directors must apply a strategic approach to meeting the growing expectations of shareholders and all other stakeholders. An approach that requires deep reflection on purpose, analysis of strategy, and consideration of all perspectives in an effort to achieve short-term profitability and long-term sustainable value creation.

As the world enters a period of reset, board members should not only equip themselves with the necessary competencies to meet new expectations but should also be willing to adapt their own outlook through a strong willingness to learn.

The findings of this report suggest that in order for board members and other executives to be future-ready, they must stay curious with a strong willingness to expand their knowledge and adapt to new conceptual interpretations. Moreover, board members should be constructively critical in challenging the status quo with respect and integrity.

Future-ready board members are highly focused on cooperative decision-making and inclusiveness. They have a demonstrated ambition to tackle systemic inequalities through actions that increase board diversity and promote a more equitable decision-making process. They are ready to apply their wisdom in making sense of complex information to effectively balance the needs of all stakeholders and adapt the strategic approach accordingly.

Any leader must understand the interconnectedness across environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues and how it relates to business strategy. Obtaining the relevant ESG and sustainability competencies is imperative for business leaders in understanding how future scenarios may expose the company to emerging risks or present further business opportunities.

I hope that you will find value in this report and use it to reflect on and further develop your competencies.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

This report provides an overview of the essential competencies, qualities, and traits the board of directors and other business professionals will need to navigate the dynamics of a global business landscape shaped by the greatest challenges of our time.

Organizations and the individuals that lead them hold the innate responsibility of delivering on a shared vision that drives long-term sustainable value creation while executing on short-term needs.

As global conditions come to normalize, we enter a period of great reset – for which the board of directors need to be prepared.

Using data collected via survey, this analysis evaluates insights from the Competent Boards global faculty and other business leaders in an effort to determine the elements comprised within a future-prepared board member.

The report uses the qualitative method to draw a comprehensive list which business leaders can use to reflect on their ability to effectively manage emergent risks and opportunities.

We asked four questions:

  • What does stewardship in the 21st century look like?
  • What does a future-prepared board member look like?
  • What new competencies are, or should be, demanded of board members?
  • What are the personal traits, qualities, and diverse perspectives needed in the boardroom?

The findings indicate that future-ready board members will need to apply a lens of curiosity that supports a culture of continual learning and strategy adaptation in order to meet growing expectations.

The survey determined that effective board leadership should be aligned with a distinct sense of purpose that is informed by a deeply-seated literacy of the material ESG challenges faced by the company.

Although an objective list of relevant skills and experience may apply to every qualified board member, the survey results indicate that the definition of a future-prepared leader may extend further.

According to the survey’s findings the personal attributes or traits within an individual’s internal value system may also play a role in defining a board member who is future-prepared.

As the COVID-19 pandemic shines a light on the many cracks within the foundations of our societal and governance structures, it becomes clear that the board of directors is expected to leverage their power and influence to take meaningful action.

The findings indicate that board members must reflect on their current outlook and set of competencies in order to identify areas for which they can develop their capacity to meet demands for extraordinary board-level stewardship in the 21st century.

Do you know of top ESG Competent Boards and Board Members?  You can nominate those you believe should be highlighted in the Competent Boards list here.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

About the Author

Helle Bank Jorgensen is the CEO of Competent Boards, which offers the global online ESG Competent Boards Certificate Program with a faculty of over 95 renowned international board members; executives and experts.

A business lawyer and state-authorized public accountant by training, Helle helps global companies and investors turn sustainability into strong financial results. She was the creator of the world’s first Green Account based on lifecycle assessment, as well as the world’s first Integrated Report and the first holistic responsible supply chain program.

Helle has written numerous thought leader pieces, is a keynote speaker, and is interviewed by global media outlets.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash

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