Dr Linda Lee-Davies, Head of Programmes – Leadership and Change at Regent’s University London, argues that leaders who are focused on addressing their individual agendas are automatically weakened in their ability to address outward challenges.
Successful governance teams know how crucial it is to present a united front to their troops, no matter how lively or aggressive debates might become behind closed doors.
While not directing critical comment towards the Prime Minister, which seems very fashionable at the moment, the resulting confusion and outcomes around Brexit are indicative of a disjointed board whose individual members have forgotten what a ‘Boardroom Handshake’ is.
Many of us are very familiar with the adrenaline rush and passionate energy with which we fight for our staff in the boardroom. However, it is always understood that once the team exits the room, everyone sticks to the agreed script and ensures that no cracks appear for those who rely on our stability and leadership.
The Brexit Boardroom has not achieved this. It is easy to blame this on the leader, but if individual agendas have become more of a priority than country or company objectives, then difficulties will arise for any leader’s ability to align mutinous efforts, disguised as scrutinous action.
If leaders have to keep turning inwards to address individual agendas, then they are automatically weakened in their ability to address the outward challenge.
The Brexit debacle has surfaced a number of sentiments, not least the question of who is willing to abide by Boardroom rules. Of course there should be scrutiny, and plenty of it, but when this turns to mutiny it becomes impossible to convince those being governed that you have their best interests at heart.
Uncertainty over Brexit has been critically worsened by the fact that the board cannot agree and perform its executive duties.
Hypocrisy veiled as democracy does not just malign the targeted leader. It also misaligns the constructive, outward facing efforts that are necessary to achieve high performance. Instead, it leaves a destructive uncertainty, championed by those focused on short-term survivalist goals.
The ‘Boardroom Handshake’ is an essential means to achieving performance. It requires compromise as a mature plurality is expected from those entrusted to be board members. The alternative is a selfish singularity, which weakens the potential strength of a united governance team and the structures and staff beneath it.