Guest Lecture Review: Effectiveness of the Board. Desirable, or Essential?

Tuesday evening from 6pm saw myself and friend Jamie attend another guest lecture. This time presented by Richard Gregory, the subject: Boards, and their effectiveness at the top of organisations.

Mr Gregory started his presentation by analysing key ‘Pillars’ to success between a board and its Directors, these were: Trust, Integrity and Honesty. These are the Pillars  along with Openness and Integrity being described as the ‘Walls.’ Essential characteristics that a successful board must have in order to be a cohesive working unit.

Mr Gregory also described that it is the people within an organisation that make it work, the Frontline is where the action is; it is important that the board share the same passions and understanding as those working at the forefront. It is imperative that an organisation works as one. If there are problems then the board must hold equal and shared responsibility as to maintain a positive sturdy outlook in the face of problems.

Gregory adds that the board must remain ‘connected’ with staff and ‘connected’ to consumers. Otherwise it is hard to see how they can move forward. In a crisis a Board is needed at its most crucial time, Directors must support each other, maintaining clear resilience against any uncertainty. Friction may occur but it is how one comes through these times that is most important. Moreover Boards need assurance from its members, it is important to make time as a board and discuss effective procedure in light of any negative on goings within an organisation.

Boards of late have unfortunately however lost their way in terms of diversity. It is important as a company to have CAGE (Class, Age, Gender, Ethnicity) diversity to be more well balanced and in touch with society. Gregory presented a shocking stat that only 1.5% of the Top 40 FTSE companies have non-white directors.

In addition to this Gregory spoke of the validity within a board of Personal Values as well as Experience and Skill. In order for one to develop maximum potential, this is vital. Humour is a key tool to unwind a board upon meeting, a great tension release.

In times of uncertainty or a loss of profits, Shareholders will often look to the CEO and Board for answers and explanations, A board really comes into its own when asking these questions of the CEO. It is of great significance when criticism of ideas and plans are invoked and the board are to challenge each other, conflict is healthy at times.

In conclusion Boards must be seen to be independent but also are dependant on one individual, the diversity is key and they need to be widespread and not just from the same sector. Boards need to connect and understand people, much like football teams. They need to restructure every so often, and a change in the manager and players can help a club develop and move forward, much like a board.

Arsenal for example… Time for change :/





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