Leaders in Governance: Driving Innovation and Collaboration in your team

Societal Trust is at an all-time low
Senior/existing leaders are faced with the challenging task of strengthening the level of trust within their Executive and Management Teams, to the level necessary for them to enable their organization to continue innovating at the rate that keeps pace with the market within which they are operating.

This is especially challenging when societal trust is at an all-time low. We are experiencing leaders asking questions about how they can rebuild, maintain or strengthen the trust within their Executive and Management teams because they are serious about strengthening trust with their external stakeholders.

Why is this so important to the business? Why have concern for trust? For leaders to keep innovating and collaborating trust is the foundation. It is the enabler for speed - the speed at which the business brings new ideas, new products, new experiences to market. It is also important to maintain the high-performance culture of the business. Trust culminates in assuring the sustainable future of the business because bottom line results are driven by the timeliness of entrepreneurial and ethical business decisions.

Every success, every mishap, every opportunity seized or missed stems from a decision someone made - or failed to make. Every organization operates in its market by making decisions. Every organization deals with its people through decisions. Making decisions is pivotal to the sustainability of all organizations - no matter their size or the industry in which they operate. Decisions more than any other organizational activity informs the brand, the culture and the governance of an organization.

Ethical business conscience when making decisions
Back in 2011, I wrote about the importance of an ethical business conscience within the leadership team of organizations in my book Inspiring Courageous Leaders - explaining that key stakeholders needed to know that the leaders of any organization could be trusted for their ethical behaviour and decisions.

Fast forward to 2019 and this foundation has been severely rocked and in many instances eroded. Stakeholders are finding it hard to trust the business conscience that leaders will do the right thing and bring the right intent when making decisions. What we see is the business reality of the increasing prevalence of contracts, legislation, Royal Commissions and other interventions from Regulators because this is has become the best way to feel assured that a "trusted business conscience" is being brought to business decisions. We look for regulators like ASIC and APRA to provide us with assurance directors are making the right business decision. What happened to relying on these highly influential and intellectual business leaders to do the "right thing", making the right business decisions, at the right time and with the right intent?

The human enablers
To rebuild after the Royal Commission findings and the erosion of societal trust it is important to focus on what it means to lead a high performing culture - with accountability for governance being centrally important. Evidence of an ethical and high performing culture is demonstrated by four human enablers within the culture and role modeled by the leadership team:

  1. Initiating challenging conversations and being open to engaging in challenging conversations initiated by others (especially those more junior or in different business units) without becoming defensive, blaming, justifying or relying on positional power to shut the conversation down.
  2. Building a deep level of trust to enable courageous conversations with each other that result in people challenging the status quo and driving innovation and encouraging collaboration.
  3. Engaging in conversations with the courage to be real as we converge our thinking to make entrepreneurial and ethical decisions - sharing openly what you are really thinking and feeling about issues without fear of retribution or career brand damage.
  4. Igniting and resolving conflict constructively - if you want people to disrupt the status quo and be honest then leaders absolutely need to expect conflict is going to be ignited and it is then critical they have the emotional intelligence to resolve it constructively.

The role of the existing leaders
These leaders play a critical role as "tribal elders" - encouraging and supporting younger leaders to emerge with the confidence, conviction, and courage to be real when engaging in conversations with their more senior leaders. To benefit from divergent thinking across a broad spectrum of people within the business then existing leaders benefit from being the role model for the kind of culture they seek - where high performance is encouraged, ethical decisions are mandatory and strong governance is integrated into every business behaviour role modelled by the leadership teams within the organisation.

I am delighted to be speaking on this topic at the upcoming Leaders in Governance seminar on 3 July. Places are limited to 15 per seminar with a networking lunch and 2 CPD hours included. Find out more here

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