Traits of a future director

As a kid growing up, I have always been fascinated with anything futuristic: aliens, spaceships, galaxies, universe and the like. While these things still attract me to this day, the “futurist” in me has ventured into other topics such as trends, scenarios and foresights, to enrich my professional life.

So when I received the video recording of a webinar entitled, “7 Surprising Traits of Future Directors” from Board Pro Ltd., a board management software company in Australia, I immediately watched it with keen interest.

In the webinar panel discussion were: Paul Smith, CEO and founder of the Future Directors Institute; Lynda Carroll, CEO of the Align Group Limited; and Steven Bowman, managing director of Conscious Governance.

In the context of the webinar, “future directors” are defined as those who will be shaping the “Board of the Future” by creating the conditions for effective stewardship, good decision-making and ultimately leaving things in a better place than they found them.

Here are the seven traits of future directors that I’ve picked up from the webinar:

1. Big picture thinker. One who brings to the boardroom a wider viewpoint, a proactive approach and an impact-focused mind, as well as seeks inputs from key stakeholders and has future-thinking and scenario-planning instincts;

2. Decisive in the face of ambiguity. One who does not aim for perfection, makes use of what is available and takes the best direction based on the best information presented;

3. Assumes the best. One who puts positivity on something that can be seen as negative and maximizes the upside rather than protecting the downside;

4. Aware of biases. One who understands that individuals have their own biases and therefore does not subscribe to selective perception, i.e., the process by which individuals perceive what they want to hear in a message while ignoring opposing viewpoints;

5. Has a healthy “impostor syndrome.” One who is always exploring, is asking why, is curious and has the humility to co-create and collaborate with other stakeholders. (“Impostor Syndrome” is the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills);

6. Lifetime learner/teacher. One who believes that directors are also students and has the knack to continuously acquire new knowledge, new skills and new techniques, as well as one who elevates others, not only themselves; and

7. Constructively disruptive. One who can say “no” while everybody says “yes,” is bold to do something new in the boardroom and who innovates and does groundbreaking actions.

There are other traits also worth mentioning: equanimity: being calm in a difficult situation; “two ears, one mouth”: to listen more than to speak; high EQ (emotional quotient): to understand, use and manage your own emotions in positive ways; courage; and no barriers to exit: able to leave the board at any time.

The next ten years will need board directors who are light-years ahead. The future needs “future directors.” Are you up to the task?

This article was published by the Business Mirror on July 21, 2022 and may not be reproduced without prior consent from the writer and Business Mirror.

The contributor, Octavio ‘Bobby’ Peralta, is Founder & CEO of the Philippine Council of Associations and Association Executives (PCAAE) and concurrently, President of the Asia-Pacific Federation of Association Organizations (APFAO). The purpose of PCAAE – the “association of associations” – is to advance the association management profession and to make associations well-governed and sustainable. PCAAE enjoys the support of the Association of Development Financing Institutions in Asia and the Pacific (ADFIAP), the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), and the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). Email the author at: bobby@pcaae.org for more details on PCAAE and on association governance and management.

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