Attributes of a Governor
Key variables that shape the recruitment and development of governors for boards and committees have been confirmed through current research . A diverse range of board members outlined priorities. In addition, some universities and higher education colleges require specialist skills or attributes. This list is therefore indicative rather than exhaustive.
The self-diagnosis tool comprises a range of questions to review and complete to help you self assess your progress.
Essential / Desirable
Each board member brings a unique pre-existing skills mix. From discussion with your university against this framework, you may identify next steps for your development.
Essential skills could include:
- strategic awareness - to understand the wider picture
- sound business acumen - including the particular context in which your university operates
Desirable skills might comprise:
- previous board / senior level experience - appreciating how university boards work for maximum effectiveness
- understanding of the difference between executive and governor roles - focussing on strategic issues and avoiding being drawn into operational matters
Knowledge / Behavioural
This area will help to indentify and draw out those hard and soft skills that members bring to their boards.
Knowledge can cover many areas:
- financial insight - perhaps with an awareness of fundraising or estates development
- function-specific or sector specific expertise - for example, proficiency in human resources or schools / further education
Behavioural attributes will cover those softer skills:
- a team player - putting the board first and not acting for individual constituencies
- a good listener and communicator - helping to optimise decisions
Immediate / Long-term
The focus must be on those developmental areas which are of immediate help but them progress towards a longer-term development programme.
Immediate goals - to be an effective board member as soon as possible by:
- understanding the relationship between government and higher education
- familiarisation with other board members; senior management team; Students Union and key constituencies within the university
Long-term goals - to take on further responsibility by:
- becoming a mentor or 'buddy' for new board members
- developing a competence and confidence to become a committee chair or chair of the board
Local / Sector Agenda
This emphasises the specific knowledge that will help your university to ensure that strategic goals can be achieved, with the following examples below:
- specific knowledge required, for example, from the Health Sector, Arts bodies, Science or other subject-specific funding agencies
- local connections to help with employability agenda, estates matters, partnerships and/or fund raising
- learning much more about the policy environment and financial / regulatory arrangements that affect higher education
- attending external events organised, for example, through the Leadership Foundation or CUC