A key role of a managing director is managing his or her board. A well-managed board can be a great source of support, expertise and different perspective. A badly managed board can consume large amounts of management time, delay the making of strategic decisions and even lead to the removal of management altogether.
It is in the best interests of the whole leadership team to ensure that the board feels it is being heard, and that management is operating in a way compatible with the principles, intentions and strategic direction of the board. The relationship between a board and its leadership team is unique. When the board of company structure changes, so too should the approach the leadership team takes to its board management.
This is easier said than done. If a management team has invested heavily in devising its strategy, structuring the organisation and implementing new systems, it can get very attached to what it has created. Suppose the company is then merged or bought out, or the board changes for some other reason and the new board wants things done differently. How easy is it for the leadership team to back itself into a corner? Why change something that was working just for the sake of politics? Doesn’t it make more sense to invest time and energy in running the company than in answering a whole raft of questions from the board?
I remember working with two divisions of the same global company. The manager of one division thought the changed reporting requirements of head office were pointless and so ignored them (against, I might say, my advice). Not unexpectedly he was replaced. The head of the other division realised that unless he had the support of his leaders they would make his life and job untenable. He gave them what they wanted which allowed him the freedom to keep his independence.
Skills in upward management are essential for any leader. The job of a leader is to provide his or her superiors with information in the way they desire it so they can feel confident enough to grant a licence to operate. A licence to operate allows people to get on and do what they need to do to be successful.
By learning the political ropes and reporting in a way that builds trust, leaders create an environment in which their people can concentrate on the job at hand. This just doesn’t happen. The relationship between leaders up and down every organisation can be a winning tool for success or a constant block and annoyance. The difference is the willingness of each leader to manage his/her bosses’ need to know.
Margot is the creator of 12 Steps For Business; a strategic leadership and corporate transformation toolkit which enables leaders and organisations to envisage and achieve unprecedented levels of growth and success.
Originally Published in the Sauce eNewsletter – theOutsourcing-Guide.com
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