This time, the joke is on me!

You will recall we had a look at some lighter moments in the boardroom, those generated by the chair and directors, in last week’s blog.

It’s now time to bring our blog program for 2015 to a close and, as promised, we’ll end with the joke being fairly and squarely on me…

There’s one that you could call ‘foot in mouth’ but that wouldn’t be entirely accurate…perhaps ‘slip of the tongue’ would be more correct.

Regardless, it will forever be etched on my mind and is as memorable today as it was all those years ago when I was facilitating a program for the Australian Institute of Company Directors up in Sanctuary Cove in Queensland.

It was a warm and sultry day and we’d spent all of it ploughing through the opening module dealing with the practice of directorship.

It was also clear that everyone – and I include myself in the ‘everyone’ as it’s always good to get the excuses in early – was getting a little tired.

Anyway, with everyone keen to call it a day, I’d started to wind things up when a hand shot up at the back of the room, someone keen to pose one last question.

His question was pretty straightforward and unambiguous: how short should the minutes of board meetings be?

My response was, shall we say, a little less so.

I started by saying that you don’t want them to be too short as they need to be an accurate record of what the board discussed, so a degree of detail is required.

I continued to stress that, on the other hand, they do not need to be an elaborate description of everything each board member said.

Unfortunately, my choice of words deserted me and I ended up saying…

You don’t want a blow by blow j*b! description of everything every director said.

Well, in a male-dominated setting, that brought the house down and I was scurrying for some sanctuary of my own.

Another less embarrassing though still comical moment occurred more recently when presenting to a board in Thailand on the board’s role in strategy.

I was at pains to make the point to the more culturally reserved and polite Thai audience that as setting a strategic direction and turning it into a plan is one of their primary responsibilities as board members, they need to bring both hard research and passion to the table.

They need to trust their gut instinct. They need to test their instinct with thorough market research. They need to invest their passion and their emotions in the final plan if they’re to stir up the executive team and staff and get them to buy into it, follow it with their hearts and deliver on it.

“There’s a real need for emotion,” I bellowed to a rather emotionless and increasingly confused audience.

So I repeated it: there’s a real need for emotion!

Confusion only heightened, until someone up front proffered: what motion are you thinking of?

My Aussie accent had them hearing ‘a motion’ but getting no direction from me as to what this ‘motion’ might be!

Okay, I’ll end by proposing a motion:

That we all have a great break, a wonderful Christmas and New Year with our families and loved ones and return in 2016 refreshed and fired up, with lots of e-motion!

We’ll chat again in early February, when I’ll get serious and share some tips on decision-making.

Until then,
Kate.

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