When ABC stands for appallingly bad conduct….

I thought I’d spend a couple of minutes today mulling over a few situations where the behaviour of a board member has done nothing positive for the organisation and its smooth functioning.


And perhaps most disturbing is that it’s more often than not done without realising the negative implications and comes down to ignorance, hubris, nepotism or an inability to convert the intellectual into the practical – or any number of toxic cocktails of the three.

First cab off the rank is the chatty chair, the gregarious sort who tends to hog the floor and dominate rather than facilitate proceedings. He or she will spend hours telling us what they think of an agenda item when one of their primary functions is to set the scene for healthy and hearty discussion.

As the first among equals, they must never stifle debate. Rather, they should afford all members the chance to air and share their views, in the confidence that balanced contributions present the best chance of arriving at clear and strategically sound decisions. And, of course, decisions that are in the best interests of the organisation they serve.

A good chair also runs a tight ship, makes sure the meeting sticks to the time allocated and sees to it that all decisions are recorded.

Let’s take another example, the nosy nepotist. Here’s a bloke (yes, I came across one of these) who sits on the board and is a lawyer, as is his young and recently graduated daughter who doubles up as the apple of his eye.

And while it might be fine to ask, in conversation with the CEO, whether they’d be prepared to chat with his daughter should there be any opportunities for lawyers within the company, it’s a definite no-no to badger the CEO with constant calls and emails, all a reminder that, in the view of the director, the company needs greater depth in its legal department and his beloved offspring is the obvious answer, the veritable saviour.

What makes this display of an appalling conflict of interest so extraordinary is that the perpetrator is a seasoned legal expert who should know better!

I’ll close this week with the meddling director who fails to observe the line between governing body and management. This person, for example, sits on the audit and finance committee and uses the body to continually look at income and expenses while questioning the salaries of middle management and below.

Dig a little deeper and you find our officious operator’s concern is much less with the bottom line and much more about some middle manager said director has it in for.

This person needs a gentle tap on the shoulder and a harsh reminder that the board employs and manages the CEO and, in some cases, the CFO. Beyond that, it’s hands-off. It’s the CEO who decides who is employed and on what terms.

I’ll continue with this theme over the next few blogs, so stay tuned…

Until next time,

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