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The board profile in 2024

| May 16, 2024

Today's boards need to be not just robust, but also remarkably agile. Uncertainty and agility have surfaced as pivotal traits shaping the contours of modern corporate governance. This shift underscores the urgency for an updated blueprint of board profiles, ensuring they are equipped to steer organisations successfully in a fluctuating economic landscape.

The ability to navigate modern business landscapes

To be an effective board member requires not only a deep understanding of traditional business principles but also the ability to adapt and embrace new trends. Board members in 2024 are increasingly required to respond to shifting market dynamics, technological advancements, societal expectations and, most importantly, the growing and constant factor of uncertainty in the world around us. The subsequent sections detail the board profile for 2024, highlighting the new trends that are critically shaping the role of board members in today's complex business environment:

Crisis management and risk management are crucial as board members face increasing complexity of risks, from cybersecurity to pandemics and global unrest. Having robust crisis and risk management plans is not only a best practice but essential for the organization's survival and success, thus becoming a crucial competence for the board profile in 2024.

Diversity and inclusion are on the agenda to ensure a wide range of perspectives. Organisations with diversified boards have proven to be more innovative and resilient. This also reflects societal expectations and fosters more representative decision-making.

Data governance decision-making is not only reserved for the management layer but has also become a key factor for board members. Understanding and analyzing data are crucial for making informed decisions and navigating the more complex business landscapes surrounding today's companies.

Expectations for transparent communication are increasing and therefore, board members must not only be communication masters within the boardroom but also towards stakeholders, shareholders and the general public. This is especially important considering the 'multi-dimensional bottom lines' characterizing successful companies in 2024, where emphasis is placed on incorporating social responsibility, ESG and other prominent societal expectations.

Focus on sustainability and ESG is an increasing requirement and these criteria for responsible business conduct are now integrated into board members' decision-making processes. Understanding and addressing sustainability issues are not only an ethical choice but also an important strategic consideration to ensure long-term value creation and risk management.

Board members are expected not only to understand the basic concepts of technology but also to be familiar with the latest technological trends. Digital transformation and thus scalable structural platforms and processes are no longer just a corporate strategy but a necessity to support growth and development. Board members should be able to guide the company through this journey.

Continuous learning, development, and the ability to remain relevant are also expectations for the boardroom in 2024. Board members who embrace this, like everyone else, are better equipped to tackle the challenges that come with increased uncertainty and the requirement for agility posed by the constant changes in the world around us.

The requirements and expectations for the board's role and composition are changing. Board members who are open and humble to these new trends are and will remain more relevant to the boards of the future. This also means that the classic board profile is under pressure and challenged by the more modern board profile.

The Classic vs. the New Board Profile

In the boardroom, the tension between traditional and modern approaches to board profiles is more pronounced than ever. While the more classic board profiles have served as the cornerstone of leadership for decades, they are now being challenged by a new wave of modern board members. Particularly in the last five years, with increasing uncertainty in the world around us, the demands for greater agility, decision speed and competence have significantly increased in both management and the boardroom. The concept of "risk management" is a new paradigm, which also calls for a review in the boardroom, as has already been the case in management layers in recent years. Let's delve into the characteristic features of the classic and the "new" board profiles.

The classic board profile:

  • Experience and stability: Classic board profiles often have a long track record of experience within specific industries or business sectors. Their strength lies in their ability to bring stability and in-depth industry knowledge to the boardroom.
  • Networking and relationships: Classic board members are often embedded in an established network of business connections. Their ability to leverage these relationships can be crucial for opening doors and facilitating collaborations.
  • Focus on results: Traditional profiles typically emphasize tangible results and a documented track record of success. This approach is characterized by a targeted and results-oriented mindset.
  • Long-term relationships: Classic board members are often known for their long-standing commitment to boards, creating continuity and stability over time.

The modern board profile:

  • Technological literacy: Modern board profiles have a strong understanding of technological trends and innovation. They can guide companies through digital transformations and leverage technology as a strategic advantage.
  • Agility and adaptability: Modern board members are characterized by their ability to adapt to changing business landscapes. They constantly seek new methods and approaches to ensure that the organization remains agile and relevant.
  • Diversity and inclusion: Modern board profiles recognize the importance of diversity and inclusion. They strive to create boards that represent different perspectives and experiences to strengthen innovation.
  • Risk-taking: In a time of increased uncertainty and complexity, modern board members are more likely to take risks and explore new business opportunities to ensure the organisation's future success.

The composition of the modern boardroom is not strictly an either-or scenario. While traditional traits continue to hold significance in maintaining stability and continuity, contemporary methodologies introduce innovation, agility and a deeper comprehension of intricate business dynamics. Consequently, the optimal board composition moving forward embodies a fusion of these realms - a strategic balance between seasoned expertise and inventive thinking, steadfastness and adaptability.

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