A managing director (MD) holds the most important senior executive position in a company. It’s their job to monitor and improve the performance of the business, as well as implement the strategies upon which the board agrees and oversee the process.
Achieving the business’s objectives, carrying out its mission, and following its vision requires specific skills, capabilities, and an overall commitment to acting in the best interests of all stakeholders at all times.
Perhaps you’ve been considering applying for the role of MD, drawing on your senior management experience and looking for ways to enhance your career trajectory. In this blog, we’ll outline some of the requirements of the role and some actionable steps to become a managing director and show you some practical ways to make your application to the board successful.
The role of a managing director
A managing director performs a wide range of functions within the company. Most MDs are responsible for guiding the board on strategy to help the organisation follow its vision, conduct its mission, and accomplish its objectives. Although the list below isn’t exhaustive, it gives you a good idea of the scope of work involved in being a successful managing director:
- Business strategy. The MD is accountable for providing advising on strategy and reporting to the board on the progress of strategies
- Resource management. An MD is responsible for managing the organisation’s resources, including human resources. Part of this involves recruiting and retaining key staff members, although an MD doesn’t take part in the initial screening process.
- Raising awareness of the company’s vision. One of the overarching responsibilities of an MD is to ensure that employees are aware of the organisation’s vision and act accordingly to help the business bring it to fruition.
- Financial responsibilities. These include monitoring the annual budgets and making sure the organisation meets its financial targets or exceeds them. MDs must also look for new ways to generate revenue, decrease overheads, and maintain quality standards.
- Marketing. The marketing responsibilities of an MD include researching, developing, and implementing clear strategies that keep the business relevant in the eyes of their target market and promote the business’s service or product offering to increase revenue.
- Staff management. This involves employee wellbeing, implementing internal policies that comply with labour legislation and health and safety guidelines, and creating an inclusive, diverse, positive, and productive team of employees.
- Reporting. This is a large proportion of the managing director’s responsibilities. The scope of reporting is vast, and MDs will typically prepare, collate, and present reports – along with their findings and insights – to the board.
As we mentioned, this list provides a high-level overview of the key deliverables organisations expect from a managing director. Each organisation’s description will differ.
How to become a managing director
If the duties and key deliverables above have inspired you to take actionable steps to become a managing director, this section will outline how you can start working towards your dream role.
Although the board may set certain requirements, performing successfully in an MD role also requires lots of ‘soft skills’. Since an MD’s job entails leadership and lots of people-management, developing your soft skills will strengthen your aptitude for the role and also improve your chances of long-term success.
MDs must demonstrate a positive, encouraging, and supportive approach to all they do. This again ties in with acting in the best organisation’s interests. To develop this skill set, many MDs have chosen professional development as their method of choice. We’ve enhanced and refined our courses and programmes over the years, and are proud to offer practical training to ambitious professionals who not only want to fulfil meet the expectations of them as MDs, but also exceed them.
Further steps you can take on your path to becoming a managing director include:
- Completing or studying towards a bachelor’s degree (if the board requires you to).
- Completing or studying for an MBA (Master of Business Administration). This is not always a prerequisite of the board; often, a mini MBA will satisfy the need for a prospective managing director to develop higher-level leadership, communication, and interpersonal skills, and to have the motivation to implement change and to improve management and organisational practices effectively.
- Gaining relevant, substantial experience, particularly developing your skills in leadership and decision-making.
- Finding a mentor. Whether this is a fellow or aspirational board member, another senior executive team member, or an external consultant focussing on your professional development,it will give you practical insights into the demands of being a managing director.
- Demonstrating your aptitude for technical aspects associated with the role. These skills can take years to refine, but a specialised course will help you discover what aspects you are already efficient in, which of them you need to develop. You’ll also acquire the tools to apply your existing and new skills to the role.
How to shape your career and professional development trajectory
Although there’s no one path to becoming a managing director, the requirements of the role suggest there are criteria, including a specific level of education and substantial work experience. Upskilling yourself will not only provide you with the tools necessary to make your application to the board appealing, but also shows key decision-makers your commitment to your own professional and personal development and also that of your team.
As an MD, upskilling your employees will be part of your remit. By offering senior team members the opportunity to attend professional development courses, you’ll be empowering them to support you as you pursue your business objectives and focus on achieving your own targets and reaching major milestones.
The next step is the most important
The next step in your career is the most important. We’re here to support you on your journey to professional success, regardless of the route you’ve taken to reach your current role. Whether you’re looking for an online course you can complete from the comfort of your own home, or you prefer in-person professional development programmes, we have the experience and tools to help you unlock your potential and reach new heights.
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