The Illusion of the Perfect Director

November 11, 2020 Share this article:

By Julie Garland-McLellan, Consultant at AltoPartners Australia and non-executive director and board consultant based in Sydney, Australia.

Every so often some journalist will come up with a list of attributes that a ‘perfect’ director (or a ‘director of the future, ‘successful director’, etc.) should have.

Watchful aspirants may then spend time, effort and money getting their own career history and achievements to fit the profile. Experience working overseas? Tick! Qualified in governance or directorship? Tick! Top and bottom line responsibility? Tick! Only to find that the ‘perfect’ CV does not lead to the perfect position on a perfect board.

Director perfection is an illusion. Adequacy and impact are better aims; directors will be better served putting their energy into finding the board that most needs what they can offer and boards, rather than follow these prescriptive limitations, should analyse their strategy and their risks and seek out the directors who will be most able to assist them.

Boards must also be prepared to learn from, and be led by, their new director. Too often we see someone who should have everything a board needs join the board and then have no impact.

Directors should earn their seats by the legacy they build. And you can only build if you create change.