Supporting the development of future directors

‘This isn’t just about supporting directors in the here and now, it’s about building a sustainable future for the next generation of leaders’


BY Jonathan Geldart, director general, Institute of Directors

A year ago, we had just declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, which we all thought would be over in a few months. How wrong we were. We didn’t realise at first just how serious a toll coronavirus would take on the world. 

At that time, directors and their organisations were dealing with the aftermath of the down-to-the-wire Brexit deal when the messages from Southeast Asia about COVID started getting louder. None of us could have predicted the enduring impact of the pandemic, however, and like a lot of crises it has also presented opportunities to transform the way in which we do business. 

The majority of organisations, regardless of company size, type, industry or location, have had to learn to adapt and continue to evolve at a pace never seen before to survive. Amid the continued uncertainty of post-COVID recovery, one thing is certain: the Institute of Directors (IoD) is committed to supporting directors to bounce back better and thrive. 

Development of any organisation’s workforce is fundamental to its success. While human capital is not a tangible asset on the balance sheet, the skills and capabilities of your workforce are incredibly valuable. 

In a recent survey of our members and the director community, 96 per cent of respondents rated continuing professional development as important to them. Furthermore, respondents identified strategy development and implementation, cybersecurity, corporate governance, leadership and digital skills in their top five learning priorities. 

As a professional institute, under our Royal Charter we have a duty to support the development of directors to be the best they can be. This isn’t just about supporting directors in the here and now, it’s also about building a sustainable future for the next generation of enterprises and their leaders. Our professional development programmes are specifically designed and delivered by directors for directors, combining academic rigour with practitioner experience and all underpinned by our acclaimed competency framework. 

In 2020, we celebrated the 21st anniversary of our internationally recognised Chartered Director programme, which has attracted tens of thousands of directors and business leaders across all sectors and industries. Chartered directors are role models who embody good governance, leadership and a commitment to lifelong learning. 

In response to the pandemic, we prioritised the redevelopment of our entire Chartered Director programme via virtual classrooms. The feedback has been phenomenal; naturally with most organisations operating remotely, our virtual programmes are seeing increasing demand within the UK and in new markets overseas. We know from our research that three quarters of our members will be keeping increased remote working after COVID and so access to hybrid programmes, which incorporate digital and virtual development pathways, is here to stay. 

We have also been responding to the needs of directors by innovating and developing new programmes. We know cybersecurity and data governance are incredibly pressing issues for our members. We will be offering tailored support and additional development in these areas over the coming months. We are passionate about improving diversity on boards and championing inclusive working practices for under-represented groups. The IoD and TheBoardroom Africa have been partnering to enable board-ready women to complete the IoD chartered director qualification since 2018 through the Open Doors Programme. 

We are also working to support the directors of the future, through a new development programme, Tomorrow’s Director. This aims to build and support students’ entrepreneurialism, understanding of good governance, effective board performance and improve their employability. Participants also get the opportunity to experience reverse mentoring with our chartered director community. This is another area where the IoD will act as a driving force for positive change. 

As we emerge up the “off ramp” from this pandemic, the IoD will retain our laser-sharp focus on director development for the benefit of individual directors, but also for the benefit of the global economy and society as a whole.