Leaders aren’t born, they are made

by Dan Byrne on Aug 25, 2022

Test leadership skills

Members receive exclusive insights and opportunities

The Corporate Governance Institute provides it's members with exclusive content, a network of directors and business leaders, details of available board positions, and the tools and resources required for a successful governance career.

Learn More

Already a member? Log in here

As the legendary American football coach Vince Lombardi once said: “Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work.”

Do you have ambitions to be a company director and gain a seat at the boardroom table? If so, your hard work and determination will get you there. But what happens when you walk into the boardroom?

Knowing how a board should operate is vital for your success as a director. You don’t want to be the member around the table that has to be brought up to speed on roles, responsibilities and ways of working.

Your colleagues, shareholders and executive team will depend on you to help guide a long list of organisational goals into one coherent, successful strategy. So, you need to be prepared.

For a fantastic insight into the process of becoming a high-performing director, you can take our free trial, which previews three of the most popular modules from the Diploma in Corporate Governance.

This is an excellent opportunity for those who haven’t taken the Diploma in Corporate Governance to examine its quality and relevance.

Your skill level – what are your gaps?

Effective company directors are top-tier leaders. Their role requires expertise, communication skills, taking constructive criticism, and strategic thinking. 

Striking the perfect balance between these things is not easy, but it is essential. 

If you are offered a director’s position and feel your leadership skills need work, don’t worry. That’s normal. Like any other position, there will be some training involved. 

The primary leadership skills in corporate governance are:

  • The ability to handle feedback properly
  • The ability to influence
  • The ability to commit 
  • The ability to be open-minded
  • The ability to communicate effectively
  • The courage to ask difficult questions when required


“To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, and be nothing.” Elbert Hubbard

Directors cannot get away from feedback, whether receiving it from others or giving it out themselves. What’s more, directors shouldn’t want to get away from feedback. At its core, feedback is what drives success. 

The real skill lies in ensuring the correct feedback is given without disrupting the flow of the boardroom. Colleagues must hear what they need to hear in a sensitive constructive way. 

It is an art to do this, but you can accomplish it easily with training and practice. 


Directors are busy people who often find themselves short on time, but good directors ensure they can fully commit to their role. 

You should learn to manage your time accordingly, factoring in all meetings, reviewing essential documents, and communicating with management and investors. 

What’s more, you should realise that the longevity of your board is critical, even after you or your colleagues have departed. Succession planning is the key to longevity, but KPMG figures reveal that over two-thirds of boards approach the subject informally or not at all. This needs to change.


According to KPMG, 43% of directors in some of the biggest global economies view “resistance to change” as the main barrier to a high-performing board. 

Change is fundamental to an organisation. It enables a business to adapt to its market and demonstrates that directors think logically and creatively. 

Rather than simply following precedent, you should listen to what’s happening around you and take notes. This gives you crucial insights that allow you to form the best strategy. 

A good company can adapt, and adaption starts at the board. If there are new ideas, the board should examine their potential. If a strategy isn’t working, the board should be rethinking until it does.


Good communication is challenging because it depends on the people in the room.

You could pride yourself on your honesty yet come across as blunt and rude in a boardroom. You could pride yourself on your sensitive approach, but others might criticise you for not speaking out when it counts. 

Good communication is not necessarily sticking to your style; it’s the ability to recognise how those in the room (including you) will process information while still working together.

In summary

Nobody was born with perfect leadership skills in corporate governance – these come with training and experience.

Our free trial of the Diploma in Corporate Governance will not only tell you where your strengths lie but also test the leadership skills you can develop. 

Good directors keep training because it builds the proper foundations of leadership. 

Start working on your foundations today.

Enjoy a free trial

Discover what makes the Diploma in Corporate Governance so relevant to your career goals. Start a free trial today and experience the most popular content for yourself.

Sign up now

Enjoy a free trial

Discover what makes the Diploma in Corporate Governance so relevant to your career goals. Start a free trial today and experience the most popular content for yourself.

Sign up now

Related Posts