Boardroom politics has become more visible and more controversial. Hidden agendas and inflated egos are some difficulties of board room politics. Such divisive behaviour has no place in effective boards.

Today’s Board of Directors are failing to cope with the pace of changes that are taking place in the business operating environment which places undue pressure on decision making, especially in the face of uncertainty.

Depending on the culture of the Board, the C-Suite is not always a fun place to be. Board rooms are sometimes viewed as places to derail agendas, spring up surprises, settle scores, wield undue power, bully management and undermine the authority of office bearers. To avoid wasting valuable productive board room time and to be more efficient in terms of decision making, it is critical for boards to decide whether it is even necessary to meet in the first place.

Given the number of meeting hours that are allocated to governance meetings each year, it is necessary for Boards to create an atmosphere for success which promotes trust especially when sensitive issues have to be discussed. Board members must therefore be willing to develop the right attitudes and skills to conduct themselves professionally. This includes projecting a positive image towards co-workers, other board members, invited guests and stakeholders. Applying these 20 tips can greatly enhance congeniality, productivity and predictability among board members;

  1. The higher ranking person (regardless of gender) must set the tone of the meeting
  2. Set clear objectives for the meeting upfront
  3. Clarify the agenda prior to the meeting to avoid surprises
  4. Prepare well for meetings (not during meetings)
  5. Adopt proper conduct on business trips by ensuring that logistical arrangements are in place
  6. Avoid interrupting the meeting by arriving late
  7. If you must leave early, advise the Chair in advance
  8. Dress appropriately by understanding and complying with the dress code
  9. Do not keep your phone on the table and if you must answer a call, leave the room
  10. Be concise, avoid repetition and do not offer unnecessary information
  11. Be respectful when raising objections
  12. Pre-meet if necessary to avoid potential unproductive arguments
  13. Always seek to understand other people’s views before arriving at your conclusion
  14. Speak up and early to avoid uncoordinated discussions
  15. Ask questions at appropriate times
  16. Only key people must be present when discussing sensitive issues
  17. Stay on track and adopt a “parking bay” methodology if necessary
  18. When conflicted always declare your interests before the meeting (recuse yourself)
  19. Build rapport between board members but avoid gossiping
  20. How one sits and articulates issues speaks volumes about themselves

IoDZ is your competent partner when it comes to Board Etiquette Training

Complied by:

Dr Eve Gadzikwa, IoDZ Councillor

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