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"Why do I need a NED?" - How a non-executive director can help your business

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Wondering what a non-executive director could do to boost your business and team? Steve Allen, friend of Firebird, explores the subject in the first of a two-part series.

When the right non-executive director (NED) joins your board, it won’t be long before you see the benefit. A well-placed NED will not only complement what you’re aiming to achieve, but also challenge, improve and motivate as they work with you to help achieve your business goals.

"When the right non-executive director (NED) joins your board, it won't be long before you see the benefit"

The Firebird directors and I recently discussed the role of a non-exec. All of us have worked closely with NEDs, held the position ourselves, and continue to fulfil that capacity now for a range of businesses.

Below are some of our top reasons for hiring a non-exec, drawing on our shared experiences:

1. A NED can bring fresh perspective

It is sometimes impossible for a managerial team to see the whole picture. Indeed, some get stuck repeating what they have always done, even when that no longer works as well for their business. Experienced non-execs, on the other hand, can be the ‘outsider’ who picks up on things that you might not even have noticed, bringing a fresh pair of eyes without any of the history.

2. A NED can provide objective critical challenge

As a sounding board for your leadership team, and a thoughtful challenger, a NED can sensitively offer constructive criticism that is all too often otherwise lacking internally. By holding management to account, a NED can challenge in a way that could be problematic for a senior manager, or executive director, to do themselves.

3. A NED can share their networks

When an organisation acquires a NED, they acquire that person’s experience, insights and book of contacts, all of which will have been gained from a wide range of different roles, spanning their career. With one single appointment, your business’s horizons, and its access to new opportunities, can grow significantly.

4. A NED can share their knowledge

Depending on the person you choose, the NED’s specific expertise can also fortify the company in the areas you feel require it – whether this be in marketing, operations, fund raising or exit-planning, for example. The NED can also guide you on appropriate corporate governance and controls to underpin the company’s long-term sustainable success.

5. A NED can help shape your strategic direction to build value

Determining the right strategy for your business, to help it reach its fullest potential, can be where a good NED really shines. By relying on their professional knowledge, smart use of data, and support of your board to identify all options, the NED can help you create a clear and cohesive strategic plan, along with the key metrics to track progress.

6. A NED can be your supportive shoulder

Being an owner or CEO/MD is a lonely job at times, as the right NED will understand well. With an experienced non-exec at hand, and a healthy rapport established between you, riding the inevitable storms can be made somewhat easier together.

7. A NED can increase a company’s standing

Last, but by no means least, comes a simple statement with a lot of truth: attracting the right NED to your board can greatly add to its worth. As a company with a strong NED on the team, your competitors, your stakeholders and trade media are certain to take notice. With your business’s stature, credibility and value boosted, the future will be brimming with potential, as more doors are opened and perceptions enhanced.

"With your business's stature, credibility and value boosted, the future will be brimming with potential"

Should any of these pluses identified above resonate with you, then the next step, choosing the right NED, is worth considering carefully. In our next Firebird post on the subject, I share my thoughts on the question: “What makes a good NED?”

If you would like to learn more about how adding a non-executive directorship can boost your business, get in touch today at

Steve Allen is a friend of the Firebird Partnership. A non-exec for several companies, he has accumulated 40 years of experience in business. Steve has worked in various travel sectors including tour operating, airline, retail, membership and business travel, for both large and small companies – from public to family-owned businesses – and has led and advised companies with annual sales from £8m to £700m.

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