A common stumbling block for successful managers entering the boardroom for the first time is how they handle the transition itself.
Individuals will often prepare meticulously for their first boardroom appearance, recognising the importance of making a strong first impression and the challenge inherent in persuading former superiors to treat them as an equal. However, many severely underestimate the extent to which the game will change. Paradoxically, it is often the very characteristics and behaviours that made an individual successful in an operational role that can threaten to derail them when they reach the board.
For example, successful managers often employ command and control tactics and use positional power to get things done. But for a new director, taking this approach into the boardroom could be fatal. Status counts for nothing in the boardroom; what is required is the effective use of personal power – the ability to influence others through reasoned argument and persuasion.
There is also a tendency for new board members – and indeed more experienced directors – to see their role as representing a function rather than the business as a whole.
As "trustees" of the business, directors should be as capable of advocating issues outside their own functional portfolio as within it.
Poor early performances in the boardroom can do lasting damage to an individual's reputation as a director. If the new board member lacks the skills to participate fully and appropriately in all boardroom matters, it is the organisation that loses out. However, aside from training on the rules and regulations of corporate governance, first-time directors are typically given very little support in adapting to their new role.
Members of the CPS team who are currently serving, or have served, as directors of FTSE 100 boards, are able to provide specific mentoring and coaching help for first-time board directors preparing for their new appointment. Our approach focuses on developing a detailed understanding of the role and encouraging individuals to explore the behaviours and adjustments to personal style that are required; integrity, judgement, objectivity and advocacy become invaluable characteristics enabling directors to make an early effective contribution around the boardroom table and a success of their new role.
A typical first boardroom appointment programme starts prior to entry onto the board and continues throughout the first year of the appointment.
|Power||to Command||to Influence|
|Purpose||to Act||to Lead|
Extensive Support Structure
Minimal Support Structure
|Traps||Expense Account Living||Conflicts of Interest|