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Men in Suits
  • Directors' Institute

A UNIQUE POV ON DIRECTORS’ BUSYNESS

Updated: May 11, 2023

The phrase "directors' busyness" refers to the regular occurrence of corporate directors being so overburdened with work that they have little time left over to focus on long-term strategy. This prevents them from being able to effectively steer the direction of the company. This phenomenon has the potential to produce a number of unfavourable results, including ineffectiveness, poor decision-making, and apathy on the part of directors.


The fact that many directors sit on multiple boards simultaneously contributes to the hectic nature of their schedules because it increases the total number of their responsibilities and reduces the amount of time they can spend on each individual board. It is possible for directors to be saddled with additional tasks as a result of their involvement in other firms, nonprofit organisations, or personal commitments.


The shortage of time that the directors have could potentially have catastrophic effects on the company's ability to set long-term goals. It is possible that directors are not fully engaged in the process of strategic planning or that they are too busy to commit enough time to it. Either of these factors can lead to subpar strategic judgements. Because directors are too busy with other responsibilities to keep an eye on the company's performance, there is also the possibility that important opportunities or issues will go unnoticed until it is too late to do anything about them.


Putting a limit on the number of boards on which directors can sit is one strategy for reducing the amount of work they have to do. It is possible that, as a result of this, board members will be able to devote sufficient time to each board and actively participate in the process of making strategic decisions. However, putting this concept into reality isn't always simple because board members can be reluctant to give up their seats or might think they're the ideal people to juggle a number of different obligations at once.


Two examples of board processes that might be enhanced to increase the board's efficiency are the utilisation of committees and the dissemination of information. This can increase the possibility that board members will actively participate in strategic decision-making and contribute value to the organization's bottom line.


The limited amount of time available to directors presents a complicated challenge that needs to be faced and managed with care. By putting an emphasis on solutions that prioritise board effectiveness and engagement, businesses have the opportunity to ensure that their directors are in a position to make full contributions to the strategic direction and performance of the company.


A director's workload can be evaluated based on a number of aspects, including the number of board positions that the director currently holds, the amount of time commitment that is required for each board, and the director's engagement in the process of making strategic decisions.


One factor to take into account is the number of directorships that a candidate has held in the past. Directors who serve on many boards may be less effective contributors in the process of making strategic decisions because they have less time to devote to each board individually. Directors should not serve on more boards than they are able to lead and engage in actively without compromising the quality of their work.


When selecting a board, your availability to serve is another important consideration to take into account. Some boards may require more time than others depending on criteria such as the size and complexity of the organisation, the nature of the industry in which it works, and the scope of the board's responsibilities. If directors are unable to devote a significant amount of time to the board, it is possible that they may be less effective in their role. This may have negative repercussions for the business.


A third component that should be taken into consideration is the participation of the board of directors in the process of formulating strategic decisions. Directors who are too busy to participate in the organization's strategic planning and decision-making processes may not be able to make contributions to the organization's performance that are relevant or substantial. Directors should be provided the opportunity to actively participate and provide meaningful input and direction. Directors should also be actively involved.


Additional indications of director activity include attendance at board meetings, participation in committees, and interaction with management and other board members.

In general, the criteria that are utilised to evaluate the availability of directors have to be proportionate to the amount of time and effort that is put in by board members. Directors who are too busy to devote the appropriate amount of time and attention to their role run the risk of the company failing to meet its duties. By putting an emphasis on criteria that give engagement and efficiency top billing, companies may ensure that their board members are fully capable of contributing to the strategic direction and performance of the company. This can be accomplished by focussing on criteria that give engagement and effectiveness equal weight.


Time restrictions can distort directors' judgement for a variety of reasons, like:

  1. Directors typically do not disclose their calendars to their coworkers, so it can be difficult to get an accurate picture of how busy they actually are. This is one of the problems. This lack of openness has the potential to become a significant barrier, particularly when directors serve on many boards at the same time or have other obligations that are kept secret.

  2. The amount of time commitment required for each board seat could be very different depending on the size, complexity, and duties of the organisation. It is difficult to make meaningful comparisons between the workloads of directors serving on different boards and in different organisations because of this.

  3. The kinds of roles and obligations that directors are expected to fulfil on the board can result in varying degrees of work on their parts. It is possible that the chair of the board has more responsibilities than other board members, making it difficult to compare the workloads of the other board members.

  4. Although directors' statements regarding their involvement in the work of the board may be similar, their actual involvement may vary greatly. There is a possibility that some board members will play a more active role than others in determining the long-term direction the company will follow.

  5. Directors' workloads may fluctuate due to factors relating to their personal lives as well as their professional lives. It is conceivable for a director to become unable to fulfil their responsibilities on the board of directors due to, for example, the start of a new job, a personal duty, or health concerns.

  6. Expressions of individual thought: It is not always easy to make an impartial evaluation of the amount of work that is required of a director, and various people may have different notions about what constitutes an acceptable amount of work.

In general, estimating the amount of work that directors are responsible for can be challenging and time-consuming. It requires the ability to weigh a lot of different aspects, as well as the adaptability to respond differently to different scenarios and the use of discretion. Recognising these challenges and focusing on open communication and effective governance practises are two things that can assist boards in more accurately estimating the workloads of directors and in arriving at nd differently to different scenarios and the use of discretion. Recognising these challenges and focusing on open communication and effective governance practises are two things that can assist boards in more accurately estimating the workloads of directors and in arriving at well-informed decisions.


There is a correlation between the level of activity that board members engage in and their level of competence and judgement. If directors are overworked to the point where they cannot give their responsibilities the time and attention they require, it is possible that their judgement and ability to make decisions will decrease.


Directors who are overworked may find that they are unable to adequately oversee management or fully engage in the process of making strategic decisions. Their hesitation to ask crucial questions or to contradict generally held notions may also be a contributing factor in the lack of critical thinking and analysis that occurs during board deliberations.

When directors are overworked, they may look to management or other board members for direction, which reduces their ability to make independent and objective choices. They may also be less alert to their environment, which raises the risk that they will miss out on important particulars or chances.


It's possible that directors' busy schedules are a warning sign that they aren't giving their entire commitment to their board roles. Directors who are not dedicated to their positions or who are unable to devote an adequate amount of time to them may fail to honour their fiduciary responsibilities or operate in a manner that is in the best interests of the firm.

On the other hand, directors who are able to create a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives and give their board responsibilities the time and attention they deserve may be better equipped to carry out their responsibilities. They might be in a better position to offer strategic counsel, challenge existing views, and hold management in check if they take on this role.


In general, the degree of activity that a director maintains may be indicative of the level of judgement that they possess and their capacity to carry out the responsibilities that come with being a board member. If boards place a premium on transparency and involvement, they can better ensure that their directors are able to make important contributions to the strategic direction and performance of their organisations.

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