Independent External Board Evaluations Service

Both research and empirical evidence suggest that an effective board creates value. It is more likely to make the high-quality decisions which will help the organisation achieve its objectives, manage its risks, and safeguard its reputation. Effective boards – and successful organisations – build trust and confidence among funders, investors, employees, customers and all those who have a stake in the company’s on-going success.

Independent external board evaluations were first recommended by the UK Corporate Governance Code in 2010 as a mechanism for assessing board effectiveness more rigorously than the practice of internal board evaluations recommended up to that point. Since then, they have become increasingly accepted – in all sectors and, increasingly, around the world – as a powerful means by which a board can assess its performance, and establish whether it is operating to high standards of governance.

Current good practice suggests that a board should conduct an independent, externally-facilitated evaluation once every three years. An independent, external evaluation overcomes the challenge often faced by internal reviews of being constrained by organisational politics, and a lack of perspective of how other boards work. A good external facilitator will be able to challenge and reassure, identify areas of strengths and areas for development, bring wider experience to bear on what a good board looks like, and provide recommendations for strengthening the performance of the board.

The case for a board pursuing an evaluation rests on the following main principles:

  • If the board is promoting a culture of performance throughout the rest of the organisation, and is holding management to account to deliver accordingly, it should be prepared to subject itself to the same performance and accountability dynamic
  • ‘Everything begins and ends with the board’, so it is critical that the board seeks to optimise its performance
  • Why would a board not want to get better at what it does?
  • It delivers one of the critical roles of the board, which is to reassure itself that it is delivering assurance of the business

This thinking has led to independent, external board evaluations becoming one of the most important innovations in governance thinking and practice in the last ten years.

Although the practice of independent, external evaluations was first introduced into the corporate sector, the practice has become increasingly embraced by the public, third and not-for-profit sectors, where the need to optimise board performance is just as relevant and business-critical. Accordingly, this offering is aimed at all such bodies.

Service Activities:

  • Board observation
  • Committee observation (if appropriate and relevant)
  • Face-to-face interviews with directors
  • 360 peer review of/by directors
  • Quantitative and qualitative analysis
  • Detailed feedback
  • Recommendations for improving board performance
  • Further facilitation as required

All work is conducted on a confidential and non-attributable basis.



Tailored to requirements


Price on application


St James’s Park, London or In-House

Lead Trainer

Seamus Gillen

Seamus Gillen

Seamus Gillen started his career in local government, before moving to Whitehall. His successful Whitehall career culminated in him becoming the Private Secretary to John Prescott MP, Deputy Prime Minister.

Read Bio
Seamus Gillen

Seamus Gillen

Seamus started his career in local government, before moving to Whitehall as a civil servant, becoming Private Secretary to John Gummer MP, Secretary of State for the Environment, and then Private Secretary to John Prescott MP, Deputy Prime Minister. 

He moved into industry, as the Group Company Secretary and Director of Regulation at Anglian Water (later AWG) plc, and then as Head of Public Policy and Regulation at O2 plc (now part of the Telefonica Group). 

He became Policy Director at the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA), where he authored a number of influential publications, including ICSA’s guidance on 'Boardroom Behaviours', and the UK Financial Reporting Council's ‘Guidance on Boardroom Effectiveness’, He also created ICSA’s successful annual Awards dinner.  He was responsible for the production of ICSA’s technical output, including its best practice Guidance Notes on boards and directors. 

Seamus runs his own governance advisory business – Value Alpha Limited – working with boards and directors around the world.  His particular focus is on board and director effectiveness.  He runs a Leadership Development Programme for company secretaries, and a fortnightly LinkedIn discussion group on governance, called Building Better Boards.

Seamus writes and speaks extensively on governance issues. He holds a Degree in Business Studies, and is an MBA and an ICSA Fellow. 

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