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Attributes of the professional director: introduction
Published on June 30, 2019 15 min
Other Talks in the Series: Attributes of the Professional Director
Hello and welcome to our very first introductory talk for the director series. This series has been put together because we took a very keen interest in what were the key attributes that directors needed in order to be effective in the boardroom. I'm Kellie Vincent. I'm the Head of Department for Strategy Management. This series has been something that we've been looking at for a couple of years now, as we really investigate how to make the most of board decisions and how we can make boards become as effective as they possibly can be.
As academics and within the business press, we often see reference to the VUCA world, but we very rarely stop and think what this actually means in practice. Thinking about volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous situations - these seem to be occasions that we take quite genuinely, as this is the new normal, and this is how life is, but reflecting on what this really means for directors is absolutely critical because the reality is that they often have to make very complex and sometimes very rapid decisions. They don't necessarily always make the right decisions. If directors are seen as working entirely alone, they can also be criticized when making these wrong decisions. So the ability for a complete board of directors to work collaboratively is absolutely essential. If we look in the business press around the world, every day there's a different example of a CEO or a board who may or may not have made the right decisions. Elon Musk is a great example. Sometimes, he's seen through the lens of his podcasts as being a great inspirational leader. At other times, he's seen as being not quite as successful and creating waves in the stock market when he's seen smoking unusual substances on radio stations but while being recorded. So we have to be really careful of the personalities involved around our boards, especially how our boards, as a collective, work and make decisions. In the UK recently, there was some considerable press discussion around the accountancy practices at Patisserie Valerie. Essentially, this was about hidden bank loans, overdrafts, and many people were calling for the board to be very, very clear in how they have been governing and how the whole process of looking after a very well-known organization that was a high street, well-known reputable brand could so quickly dissolve into crisis. So we see the VUCA world happening around us all of the time, and the challenge and the responsibilities for directors are huge.