Holding the role of chairperson, although coveted, is not the easiest position to navigate. Without a doubt it comes with its perks and benefits. However, the unseen challenges may prove too tiresome, juvenile and altogether not worth the trouble. The Leading the Board Programme is designed to aid sitting chairpersons and vice-chairs go through the motions, so to speak, of holding an organization’s most influential position.
The two-day non-residential Programme hosted nine participants at the Hemingways Hotel, Nairobi and focused on the various angles of public sector leadership. The sessions were facilitated by Strathmore University permanent and adjunct faculty members, some of whom are currently sitting chairpersons in public sector boards.
There was a specific prevalence on the theme of responsibility, with varying views on how to conduct oneself as a chairperson. Naturally, these positions attract infamy and arouse those around you –the board, stakeholders and even the public – to attach a scarlet letter on you. While maintaining the heavy role of planning the success of an organization, tough issues such as compliance, accountability and risk, along with dealing with mismanagement in many cases, due to audit malpractice; it’s funny to think that those put close to you to ensure things run smoothly could be the cause of your downfall; and this is part of the chairperson’s dilemma.
A responsible chairperson knows that the power of duality – balance, is the key to effectively running a board. John Ngumi, the immediate former Chairman of the Board of Directors, Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC), credits “the bikini theory”, as an easy way to ensure a sense of balance between stakeholders and the chairperson is maintained – “show enough but not everything”.
Going deeper into the rabbit hole, facilitators delved into the pressures of being a chairperson – how do you handle influence from a higher power (for better or for worse)? How do you manage a disgruntled workforce who invariably place you on a pedestal? And perhaps most importantly, how do you resist the urge to resign when the going gets tough? The secret is to learn the dynamics of the board while remaining ethical. Case studies looking into devious management, dire enough to lead to the dissolution of a board, as well as gaining a grasp of the often overlooked “soft skills” required for interpersonal management.
The Programme is a roadmap to navigating the heady environment of power with integrity. It is essentially a “how to guide ” on leadership as a chairperson, with a strong emphasis on performance management concepts and on world-wide best practices which are applicable in the local and regional business environments. Learn more about the Leading the Board Programme here >> https://sbs.strathmore.edu/leading-the-board-programme/
Article by Katherine Keango
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