Another evening and another guest lecture attended, you may think I’m going crazy (but really, i’m just desperate to finish another looming deadline). The subject of this excursion however, was not as lax as the first and for once, not about me.
The evening saw me attend a lecture delivered by Richard Gregory and the subject: Boards, their necessity and effectiveness at the top of some of the biggest organisations.
Comparing the board to a building structure, Gregory went on to emphasise the importance of key ‘pillars’ to success – these, to help you understand consisted of characteristics such as integrity, honesty and most valuable trust. As well as these, ‘walls’ which surround this working unit, such as openness. Just like a structure that needs support, without these characteristics a board would not function as a successfully working unit. Further on from these key themes, Richard didn’t fail to mention that without the dedicated members of an organisation striving for success, the company would simple crumble. He emphasises that a board is not a separate entity, and rather they need to ensure that they are sharing the same passions and those workers on the front line, sharing responsibility and working towards the same goal.
This cohesion between contrasting levels of management is essential when an organisation faces problems, whether these be internal or external. Internally, board members must ensure that they do not only have the reputation of the business to think about, but understand the needs of those below them – support those of a lower pay roll and work effectively to achieve success for all.
In my mind, this sounds like a traditional and tired effort, with companies ensuring that the happiness of their staff is paramount to success – but failing to show this once analysed. However, Richard went on to speak of the importance of personal skill and emotion – developing maximum success and pushing for results (but staying human at the same time).
Looking at the title of this guest lecture, it is clear to me that we must call on the real question and understand if a board really is essential. In answer to my question, Gregory emphasises that in times of crisis or loss of profit, it is the board who are pushed to the front and have the answer to everyone question in their hand. Like an umbrella overlooking the subject, the board must have the intelligence and provide staff members with the ability to focus on their own individual job, while they take care at the top. Although its not always so simple, and keeping a sound mind is a real task for most. (Not to mention conflict between members, however this can be beneficial in questioning methods and leading to new, more successful tactics).
Overall, the desire behind having a board of directors is their ability to look at the large problems and oversee everything, as long as they keep everyone in mind. They are not independent and individual, but rather the voice of many and while some may complain – without the umbrella over our head, the rain would just keep on falling.
(Sorry for the puns, they’re as flat as a board).