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I’m sorry if I got ratty with your accountants the other day but all the Cadbury’s and humbug in the world cannot get me to have much truck with the flabby concepts surrounding Non Executive Directors.

In the first place, it’s an oxymoron – you cannot have “Non-Executives” who “direct” anything! Semantics perhaps, but semantics always hides something. The whole board should focus on its shareholders, its people and their lives above all – you don’t need outsiders for that.

But there is a role for expert incomers, and that is as a coach/ mentor/ advisor to the guys who are carrying the can, who have to put up with the massive pressures of running the firm. These top executives, and the CEO in particular, need an objective sounding board, someone “untouchable” who will stand up to them. In bad times, the incomer is a confidential supporter and helper. In the best times, he stops the CEO believing his own PR, wards off his bully tactics as he tries to push through half considered dreams. Tomkins, Ford, AT&T, I suspect Enron – the list is a formidable one that could have benefited. If that is a “Non Executive Director”, then I’m all for it.

See you next week,