Challengers, Not Critics, Welcome!

You’ll remember my two previous blogs on governance in politics shed some light on pollies failing to live by the very laws they create and their rather flawed approach to board appointments.

Now, in bringing the three-part series to a close, we’ll look at what some serious governance research has to say about the behaviour of those involved in governance and how it impacts – positively or negatively – on the organisations in question.

There’s a chap in North America named Leblanc who has conducted robust governance research that arrived at equally potent conclusions.

His research confirmed that the behaviour of those involved in the governance of the organisation has a major impact on the financial performance, the productivity and the efficacy of the organisation; that dysfunctional behaviour by those in a governing situation will ensure that the organisation will not perform as well as it could or should.

Leblanc went on to look at the types of behaviour you find on boards, before categorising them according to whether they will lead to a functional or dysfunctional board. And, one example is the difference between a challenger and a critic.

What you want on a board is a challenger, someone who may well hold a different view or position and will constantly challenge conventional thinking. But they’ll do so in a manner where they’re looking for other, alternate ways of doing things, where they’re searching for and offering up solutions.

So what’s the behaviour you’d never wish to see on a board, even in your very worst nightmare?

In a word, the flipside.

It’s the behaviour of people he calls the critic, people who want to ridicule, to bring everything down and to destroy rather than create…with nary a thought for solutions.

And here’s the clincher…he says the best way to spot the critic from the challenger is in the chosen tone of voice!

Need I join the dots?

That’s Federal Parliament in action, where almost to a person, the tone is invariably snide, cutting and spiteful.

In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the stream of rubbish, the unpleasant and malicious words we hear coming out of the Canberra chambers all too frequently is a sad indictment on our democracy, not to mention a handbrake on our progress and prosperity.

And to think they’re using our money to carry on like a bunch of pork chops. It’s our tax dollars at work, being wasted on a level of debate that’s less dignified – and a great deal less intelligent – than the stuff that goes on between two juveniles fighting over a packet of crisps in the playground.

Yes, our politicians are in desperate need of governance education but if past performance and prevailing attitude is any yardstick, we shouldn’t be holding our breath.

And that, I’m afraid, is the saddest of all.

Kate Costello

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