Pick the Director you like least

Director appointments are fascinating. It is often very hard for a group of directors (especially in a New Zealand environment where relationships and likability are so important) to appoint individuals who feel "different" and perhaps less likeable.

Perhaps it is our instinctive human nature that we want to work with people we like. The challenge is that being likeable and being an effective board member are not one and the same concept.

In fact, on the contrary, relationships need to be collegial, however if they are too close then the board misses, or at least risks missing, the vital creative conflict that leads to better decision-making.

Advice for directors appointing new members of their board. Put likability out of your minds when assessing potential directors. It is almost irrelevant, and might even be a negative. It is human nature to ‘bond’ over common career trajectories, peer groups in common, educational history, hobbies, sporting interests and so on, and to build rapport around these elements. Paradoxically perhaps, these common ‘links’ [and immediate likability] might actually be exactly the opposite of what a board needs!

By way of a footnote, some readers may think I'm advocating for gnarly personalities. On the contrary, appalling interpersonal behaviour, bullying and so on have no place in the boardroom. In fact, time and time again, they are shown to be unconstructive and lead to poor performance at the board and executive level and in turn poor company performance.


Peter Kerridge

Kerridge & Partners

Pick the Director you like least