Leadership Development

Effective Board Behavior

In recent months I have written a few blogs about corporate governance and business risk management. I have expressed the view that many of the corporate problems we have today are related to ineffective board governance. It has been interesting being in Europe for the past 2 weeks where this subject has come up in many discussions with business leaders and in the press. Clearly, the topic of corporate governance is high on the agenda. It needs to be because this is the source of so much corporate damage.

The 2 business problems related to corporate governance getting mentioned the most are executive remuneration and then acquisitions. In both of these areas, executives have allowed their own greed to take over at the expense of the company. This is where the business leaders have really lost sight. The key point then is that the Boards have been too weak to stop them. This gets back to the structure of the board, in particular separation of chairman and CEO/President, majority of non-executives, minimal conflicts of interest and then importantly the right mix of non-executives who have the right behavioral styles to oversee the executives.

Remuneration is a hot topic because it is visible and generally reported in some way by public companies. However, acquisitions are a major issue because of the high potential for destruction. Of course, there are executive remuneration motivations by expanding the company. How many acquisitions really work? Not many and there are plenty of stats to show that. Although, some do. The business integration and financing issues are very difficult. From a governance perspective how much are the boards really looking through these transactions? To what degree has management pushed them through? What is the DNA of the leaders? What is motivating them?

As we move through these turbulent times I hope that more companies will start to look at their board behavior and make changes. This is the first step to true leadership development. Investors also need to look at these issues when making long-term investment decisions.

Fix Corporate Behavior… Fix the Board

I have had some interesting discussions in the past few weeks with business leaders from many different industries and backgrounds in the United States. One of the areas that consistently comes up is poor corporate governance. As mentioned in my last blog most of the economic problems we have right now are due to the behavior of our leaders.

Being direct, alot of leadership behavior is not properly monitored. So, a key step towards fixing the problems we have today would be to change the corporate governance structures in publicly traded companies. In particular, I believe that the roles of Chairman and Chief Executive/President must be separated. You cannot have the Chief Executive of a company also its Chairman. This places far too much power in the hands of one person. Decisions for the company will largely be made by that person ? and while that leader may have many great strengths, he or she may also have alot of blind-spots and biases which will go unchecked. Further, that leader may be tempted to make decisions out of self-interest – whether it be remuneration, selling the company or make any decision which benefits him or her.

You only need to look at the evidence out there to see how many great companies have been destroyed in the last 10 years because there has been a leader who is too dominant and acted out of self interest which has gone unchecked through proper board governance. I do not believe investors should invest in companies who do not have the right corporate governance structure. Having the Chairman and CEO being the same person is very risky and at some point could mean the company is seriously endangered. So, as businesses restructure and investors start looking for good opportunities sound corporate governance should be one of the main factors considered. Taking this point further, the remuneration levels of the CEO’s should be reviewed. Frankly, in many companies they are way out of line compared to the value brought to the table by that person.

Manage the Human Risks in Your Business

At the moment there is alot of talk about the collapsing business and financial environment. For everyone it is having an impact in all sorts of ways. Of course, we all look at the numbers side of the equation; but what about the people side? What are the human risks in your business? How are your people behaving in these times? Then, also, how do you want them to behave to handle the crisis and then build your business going forward?

We have been working with many companies all over the globe on managing and developing their human capital. In this regard, we have been using our Business DNA Business Risks Matrix. Please click on the link to review a summary.

Have a look at the balance of human behavioral risks in your business versus the environmental business risks. You can see alot of attention needs to be given to the employee and leadership behavioral risks. This is where businesses win or lose.

Being very frank, the current financial and business environment has been caused largely by poorly managed human behavior. Poor financial and business circumstances do not entirely happen themselves. Look at the leadership of the companies around you. How we move out of it will depend on all of our behavior. How are you going to be a leader and manage your human capital?

Recently, we launched our new Business DNA behavioral profiles. The insights from these profiles will be outstanding predictors of how your business is going to develop and where many of the roadblocks are. For more information visit: www.businessdnaresources.com

Money Influences Leadership

In recent weeks I have been doing some leadership development consulting and coaching. The goal of this work has been mainly to help the leaders to build their emotional intelligence and then generally their self awareness of what is driving the decisions they are making.

Typically, most leadership development work of this kind focuses on the person’s behaviors, experiences, the influences of the environments they are in and have come from, their skills and knowledge, and even their states of consciousness. All with the goal of helping the leader understand themselves better and becoming more empowered. Then there is also training on specific leadership methodologies and strategies. None of these factors are to be underestimated as being unimportant, because they all are.

However, there is one factor often missing from the discussion — and that is money. The reality is that the topic of money is missing from the coaching agenda full-stop. Why? Talking about money can be a very emotionally charged issue for both the leader and the consultant/coach. Many people are, when it gets down to it, mystified by money and the power of its impact.

The reality is, money is directly or indirectly wrapped up in some way with every decision that a person makes, and is therefore a very powerful influence. Leadership decisions are no different. You only have to look at some of the decisions made by leaders in the last 10 years and see the devastating outcomes resulting in spectacular corporate collapses, insider trading, bankruptcy. Also, the great corporate performances can be attributed to a healthy money attitude.

Yes, money can be the carrot to incentivize performance, but it can also be the driver of warped decisions. Lets not say all of the bad decisions are deliberate because they are not. Some of them are caused by blind spots or put in another way, a simple lack of awareness.

Nevertheless, the point is that your perspective on money, whether conscious or not, influences your leadership – the decisions you make, the goals you set, action plans, how you manage yourself and others and so on.

So, reflect on how your leadership is influenced by money. Perhaps understanding your own relationship to money will improve the quality of your leadership, corporate results, and ultimately your life.

Entrepreneurs Feedback – What Makes People Successful

In a discussion with a group of entrepreneurs, I asked them the question: What Makes People Successful?

I enjoy asking questions like this. I always learn something from others perspectives and insights. It gets me to think at new levels. As you may expect dealing with a diverse group everyone’s responses were great and quite different. I personally think the keys to success are the sum of what everyone said. There are probably more, or in some ways the same points expressed a different way.

Here are the attributes that the group expressed:

  • Confidence
  • Determination
  • Where with all
  • Seeing it all through
  • Execution
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Instincts to see something others do not
  • Patience

Regardless of what you do consider keep these attributes at the top of your mind . If you have any other ideas to suggest, I would like to hear about them.

Personal Confidence…..Remove the Gremlins

How confident are you in the business, financial and life decisions you are making? Do you have times of doubt? Have you ever created thoughts in your mind that are not reality, or what can be called gremlins? These questions are equally valid whether you are an investor, executive or advisor.

When you have confidence almost anything can be achieved, adversity can be handled, your mind opens up to new possibilities, you get unstuck, relationships can get built, people are attracted to you. Personal confidence is an energy force that sustains you. With plenty of confidence, there can be never ending growth in ALL areas of your life.

So, reflect on what you are currently confident about and what may be undermining your confidence.

The degree to which you have personal confidence actually gets down to personal trust. How much do you trust yourself? We all have gremlins floating around in our heads that were falsely created somewhere and they are generally there because we are not so trusting of ourselves. The key to change is building a positive way of thinking to remove the gremlins.

At the top level, this starts with discovering who you are, defining what you exist for and gaining clarity of what is important. Put another way, it is to define what a quality life is for you and then stick to it. Your definition of what is a quality life, which includes your life purpose, will put the framework in place for making confident decisions and cutting out a lot of clutter that may get in the way of your confidence. After all, it is critical you live your unique design.

Nevertheless, there is the day-to-day issue of self-management. Keeping the gremlins out of your head EVERY day is not easy. You can do it by focusing on the questions you ask yourself when key issues or questions come up during the day. Learn to ask yourself positive questions rather than negative, judgemental or critical questions. Go to work knowing you will approach your day this way and then at night question yourself, did I approach everything with a positive mind-set? Then, what can I do tomorrow to build my confidence further? The other aspect is to review your activities and see what is both building and sapping your confidence. This is part of being well prepared, which of itself is a confidence booster.

I would also say you should consider having a coach to be firstly a guide, then encourager and accountability partner in building your confidence. Constructive feedback and powerful questions from a coach who is independent of your life but “with you” will really help.

Once the trust comes, personal confidence accelerates and amazing results can be achieved with harmonious relationships.