The Independent Board Director, also sometimes referred to as an Outside Director, is an advisor to the CEO who provides active oversight of the company's business to minimize corporate risk and promote the creation of shareholder value. The Independent Board Director job serves as a fiduciary: the Director is an active monitor of management. A successful Independent Board Director will challenge its operations, business model, strategies, underlying assumptions, operating performance and leadership development to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Typically, Directors are subject to an annual election; must attend 6-8 Board meetings a year; and participate in key committees, such as audit and compensation, which meet an additional 6-9 times per year.
Collectively, the board should possess a blend of skills tailored to the company’s current business needs and future goals. Ideal board members are pragmatic, strategic, tough-minded, able to offer critical review, and adept at giving direct guidance and feedback. They speak their minds, but also have a sense of partnership and of working towards a common goal. Strategic, financial and operating acumen are imperative for anyone seeking Independent Board Director positions, and the director must have a proven reputation and a track record of excellence in their field. Independent Board Directors have a mindset that questions rather than accepts, coupled with the courage to ask difficult questions in a constructive way. They must be interested in making a meaningful contribution and be able to deal with pressure. Executive headhunters and recruiters are looking for Independent Board Director job candidates:
- Executives who can serve on a particular committee, such as audit and compensation, where financial expertise is essential.
- Sitting CEOs have typically been the most sought-after for Independent Board Director positions, but because of time restraints and limitations on the number of directorships that one can hold, executive recruiters and headhunters are turning to Presidents, COOs, CFOs and heads of large operating units to serve as Independent Directors.
- Executive headhunters or recruiters look for directors who have faced some of the same problems the hiring company may face in the future.
- There is a strong demand for Board Directors with international, technology and marketing experience.