Boardroom Wars?.... Understanding the dynamics

Boardroom Wars?.... Understanding the dynamics

‘War Breaks out in Co-op Boardroom’ is a recent City AM headline...

‘War Breaks out in Co-op Boardroom’ is a recent
City AM headline(1).

The article describes how Euan Sutherland, the Chief Executive, responded to leaks of his pay deal and other financial information at the troubled Co-op group. The dissatisfaction in the Boardroom is now in the public domain. Increasingly, Boards are under public scrutiny, whether it is CEO pay, strategic failures or conflicts over stakeholder engagement.

All these stories have one thing in common: they are reported as binary challenges between two opposing forces. In these dyads the only outcome is winning on the one hand or failure on the other.

However, there is an alternative. Boards able to work with the complex dynamics across and within the whole Board, are better equipped to manage the tensions effectively and thereby steer the business through turbulent waters. This is a dynamic of GROUPS not individual-interpersonal. Once the Board is able to conceptualise itself as a ‘fractal in context’, in essence holographically containing the entire enterprise, every interaction in the boardroom echoes the culture, values and behaviour of the whole organisation.

The Tavistock Institute of Human Relations is offering a programme, Certificate in Dynamics at Board-Level to equip consultants, coaches, trainers, evaluators and Board Chairmen and Presidents with the insights and skills to help Boards better deal with their dynamics, and so create healthy organisations.

Peter Whitehead, in the Financial Times (5 February 2014), talks about 2 reasons for Boardroom failure. From Chief Financial Officers and Chief Risk Officers, he evidenced the central role of trust in the Boardroom and the unhelpful impact that its absence has on Board and corporate success. Trust is a complex concept. As organisations work in increasingly complex, uncertain environments, there is a corresponding increase in concern about trust, particularly in those running organisations with a public impact or benefit. We need to be confident about the trust we place in Boards because they increasingly operate at the edge between what is known from everyday experience and the contingency of new possibilities posed by new technologies.

Social Media, providing immediate and widespread avenues of communication, gave the Co-Op CEO an outlet for his dissatisfaction, with a post on Facebook: ‘We appear to have disaffected people who are determined to make life difficult and embarrassing for the Co-operative at a time when what we need most are professionalism and loyalty to the business’.

For those wanting to deepen their understanding and appreciation of the challenges in the Boardroom, we invite you to apply for a place on the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations’ Certificate in Dynamics at Board-Level, closing date: 14 April 2014.

Applications are now being invited for the next programme beginning in May 2014. For a brochure with full details including outline, fees, venue and module dates or if you have any questions, please contact Rachel Kelly, Professional Development Co-ordinator:

e: r.kelly@tavinstitute.org
t: 020 7457 3927


(1) ‘War Breaks out in Co-op Boardroom‘, City A.M. (March 10, 2014)

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