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The seven attributes of best-in-class directors for post-bankruptcy boards

5/9/2016 Les T. Csorba and Mark H. Livingston
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The cyclical nature of the natural-resources industry is currently forcing companies in the sector into bankruptcy with increasing frequency. Largely precipitated by the downturn in global commodity prices, the number of US natural-resources companies at highest risk of default is nearing a peak not seen since the height of the financial crisis of 2008–09.

Companies emerging from a US Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing face many daunting tasks. The most important, perhaps, is assembling the leadership team—recruiting seasoned, best-in-class directors who must hit the ground running in overseeing the operational and organizational restructuring of the company.

This process of filling an empty table is different from replacing individual directors; post-bankruptcy boards pose a heightened demand for specific skill sets and personal attributes, transformational leadership, and the creation of a winning culture from scratch. Based on our experience with bondholders, creditors, and advisors, we have identified seven essential attributes for directors of companies emerging from bankruptcy:

Filling the Empty Table Infographic

As another, larger wave of bankruptcies looms, affected companies should prepare for the challenges of finding a new slate of directors—directors who are primed and fully equipped to provide best-in-class oversight.

For the full report, Filling the empty table: The seven attributes of best-in-class directors for post-bankruptcy boards, click on the download link above.

About the authors

Les T. Csorba ( is a partner in Heidrick & Struggles' Houston office and is a member of the Industrial and CEO & Board practices. He is the author of Trust: The One Thing That Makes or Breaks a Leader (Thomas Nelson, 2010).

Mark Livingston ( is a partner in the Houston office; he leads the Natural Resources Sector and is a member of the CEO & Board and Financial Officers practices.

The authors wish to thank Ron Lumbra, Bonnie Gwin, Ted Dysart, Ted Jadick, David Pruner, and Lee Hanson for their contributions to this article.