Guiding boards. Growing business.

Personal Skills for High-Performance Directors and Boards

You cannot have a high performance board without high-performing directors. And you will have neither without the requisite personal skills to lead those around you and your business to a higher level.

While there are numerous personal skills that will serve directors well, let us explore just three of these for creating high board performance.

Time Management

Manage your time wisely so that you are well-prepared for board meetings. You should take between half of to double the time of a board meeting to do this. This means that if your board meeting is four hours long, it could take you anywhere from two to eight hours to prepare effectively. Ensure that you block this amount of time in your diary so that you focus on what you need to achieve.

Conclude reporting timeously so that all stakeholders – whether tax regulatory bodies, owners, shareholders or the public – receive information as required. The consequences of not doing so are vast and can decrease your board performance.


You have limited time in a board meeting.  Ensure that you communicate in a manner that gets your point across succinctly yet effectively. Part of planning for the meeting is noting what must be tabled and gathering relevant information to back up the discussion. Share only the most relevant points when leading the discussion, bearing in mind the purpose of the meeting and the impact of the final decision – and of not deciding.

Communicating effectively also manages expectations. It is a no-brainer that you need to inform those affected if you are unable to attend a meeting. In the same manner, be upfront with management and shareholders if anything is amiss. It is in everyone’s best interests, and the overall board performance, that you keep stakeholders abreast of any developments – whether positive or unfavourable.


Having an enquiring mind fosters thinking out of the box and looking for solutions where others might not. This is especially useful when investigating and considering joint ventures and mergers. Asking questions that explore new avenues – whether for new products or processes – helps businesses to adapt and thrive. A board of curious directors supports high performance.

Kieron McRae, Head of Sirdar Guide, recommends that all board members and boards as a whole undergo regular assessment and evaluation of their skills and ways of working. He shares, “Sirdar’s board evaluation process provides a learning experience for executive directors who often move between the role of director and manager, and who review independent directors’ performance. The feedback and insight provided support improved board performance in the next period.”