May 3rd, 2013 – Vienna, Austria – AIMS International has launched the second issue of the international study about the most efficient competencies for Board Members.

This study was conducted by AIMS International, Leaders & Co, the College of Corporate Directors in Canada and Gauthier Murtada & Partners. The following is a summary of a study which includes remarks and comments from members of the Research Committee as well as their constituents and some professional board directors. We want to foster a discussion on the topic of desired and efficient behaviors of directors, while creating a practical guide for chairmen of boards, directors, members of Governance Committees, CEOs and any other person involved in the recruitment and the evaluation of a board director. The team was headed by Richard Joly, AIMS International and Leaders & Co.

Purpose of the Study

What are the efficient behaviors that positively influence the work of a director?

There is a large inventory of tools to assess the behavior of a president and CEO. There is access to comprehensive databases to determine their future behavior. However, no assessment tools exist to perform a good evaluation of the director. This is the main reason which motivated this study. The involved team sought to better understand and define the elements that lead to efficient behaviors. The research was conducted with the following partners:

AIMS International: provide a wide range of services, including global Executive Search and Talent Management services worldwide to a substantial and diversified client base.

Gauthier Murtada & Partners: offer solutions in assessment, development and executive coaching. It also makes available to companies a wide range of psychometric tests and assessments tools.

The College of Corporate Directors at Université Laval: offer directors a unique, top-quality professional certification program focused on best practices in governance.

Together, the team tried to identify the key behaviors for efficient director and how these behaviors can enable the board to better fulfill its fiduciary duty. The Research Committee consisted of Mr. Jean Bédard Professor at the School of Accounting, Faculty of Sciences from Université Laval and speaker at the College of Corporate Directors; Mr. Jacques Grisé, Ph.D., F.Adm.A, Program Director at the College of
Corporate Directors; Mr. Pierre Gauthier, founder of Gauthier Murtada & Partners and industrial and organizational psychologist; and Richard Joly, AIMS International and Leaders & Co, executive recruitment consultant and trainer and speaker at the College of Corporate Directors/Université Laval.


This article presents the results of a study involving the interviews with 45 seasoned directors in seven countries: Canada, Finland, Germany, Hungary, South Africa, Sweden and United States.

Interviewees are sitting on boards of traded companies with revenues of more than $1 billion. These board members all have over 10 years of experience in different industry sectors. An advisory committee helped the research team to identify the six most desired behaviors from a list of 39 standardized behaviors used in the assessment of CEOs. A questionnaire for each of the six behaviors was developed. Face to face interviews were conducted then using the questionnaire to gather comments from the interviewees based on their professional board

Following are the six behaviors that were the subject of the study:

  1. Sense of Ethics:
    Demonstrates a high sense of integrity and puts forward strong values related to ethics. Places the needs of the company before his own.
  2. Strategic Thinking:
    Has a clear vision, anticipates trends and considers the risks associated with strategic decisions. Analyzes situations in a global perspective. Has good sense for planning and anticipating the long-term impacts.
  3. Judgment:
    Knows how to put things in perspective and sets priorities after assessing the facts objectively. Remains objective in analyzing complex and ambiguous situations. Adopts a constructive approach and ensures good balance of the different views.
  4. Commitment and Sense of Responsibility:
    Honors its commitments. Shows availability and assiduity. Spares no follow-up.
  5. Communication:
    Able to share his views with clarity by promoting the adhesion of others. Knows how to use the right words to simplify the complexities of his thought.
  6. Team Intelligence:
    Focuses on common goals, priorities and problems through active listening of the concerns expressed by others by focusing on teamwork. Seeks to establish trusting relationships. Recognizes the importance of complementarities on the Board.

In this study, more than 2,000 pages of interview notes which were the subject of a thorough review were collected. The observations and the information disclosed from the interviews were recorded, compiled and personal identifiers were removed to preserve confidentiality. In this report, the desired and undesired behaviors are listed which we have extracted from the interview transcripts with some of the most relevant comments and opinions.

The goal is to present what directors experienced and lived according to the six behaviors which were aimed to better understand. This study contains six sections, one for each behavior. In each of these sections, you will find the definition for each behavior, a brief summary of the results of the study and the list of desired and undesired behaviors mentioned by respondents.

What are the most efficient competencies of a Board Member in a Board setting?

Find the details about Sense of Ethics, Strategic Thinking following this link to Study 2 Part1, and details about Judgement and Commitment and Sense of Responsibility following this link to Study 2 Part 2.


Definition: Able to share his views with clarity by promoting the collaboration of others. Uses specific words to simplify a complex thought.

A director must say what he thinks, feels and believes in a transparent manner. Questions that he asked must be of quality. A director who expresses his ideas with a structured thinking process adopts a desired behavior. Having good content when making a comment is a desired communication behavior. This is the best tool to influence other directors.

On the opposite, being eloquent with a meaningless message is an undesired behavior. It leads to a loss of credibility with other members.
Active listening and having an open mind are two best behaviors that the respondents are seeking from a director. It allows for everyone to express their ideas without being judged. It also allows the other directors to see things differently.

Many directors mentioned that learning new ideas are one of the main reasons they are motivated to be on a board, even if they are at the end of their career.

Team Intelligence

Definition: Focuses on common goals, priorities and problems through active listening by focusing on teamwork. Seeks to establish trusting relationships. Recognizes the importance of complementary skills between Board directors.

Directors are seeking respect from other directors on the board. In fact, a Chairman prefers that each director refrains from socializing with (i.e. outing activities with spouses) in order to preserve their independence of mind. They do not want anyone to be influenced to hold back on their opinion, because they are forging a personal friendship. The desired behavior is to have individuals who will test the opinions openly and create a clash of ideas. Too many familiarities can interfere in these circumstances. What is crucial for the Board to work well is to have diversity and a full exchange.

Some even admits that the debates and disagreements in a Board setting motivate them to stay. One can always disagree and it must be done in a respectful manner. If a Board member is too emotional or wrapped up in his opinion, then he will demonstrate undesired behavior. It is also negative for a director to use his reputation (i.e. CEO of a large corporation) to influence the Board or even bully another Board director.

The Executive Summary of the study will be published on May, 6th. Contact Christian Schulte for the complete results, now.