As the global business landscape becomes increasingly complex, Board Directors today are confronted with the growing expectations of multiple stakeholders, across a myriad of issues. Coupled with shifting global dynamics of power and transformational changes driven by information and technology, there is increased pressure for Board Directors to navigate the new and the unknown, while staying anchored in their values, to drive performance and results.
Held on March 20th in Singapore, the most recent session of the Directors-in-Dialogue (DID), one of the flagship programmes of the Human Capital Leadership Institute, a subsidiary of Temasek Management Services, explored the contribution and impact of Board Directors against this new backdrop of change. Through a combination of concepts, tools and experiential learning sessions, the participants were invited to enhance their cognitive agility and intuitive capability to exercise wise power in governance.
Facilitated by Marc Le Menestrel, Visiting Professor of Corporate Governance and Sustainability from INSEAD, the session discussed the three spheres of power - political, economic and social, and the two disruptive spheres – technosphere (man versus machine) and biosphere (man versus nature). Participants were encouraged to explore and confront their own fears as board directors, to distinguish being fearful from being a prisoner of their own fears, and to examine their individual motivation of becoming a board director. Ultimately, the DID session highlighted the importance for Board Directors to understand how wise power and effective governance require not just a focus on end results, but also a need to forge one's own path, with a vision and purpose beyond the goal.
Marc Le Menestrel teaches and coaches senior executives and board directors on high level performance and leadership as well as the exercise of wise power in governance, sustainability, anti-corruption and risk management. Leading companies and academic institutions are using his expertise and innovative pedagogical approaches to inspire leaders in search of both performance and meaning. As a decision scientist, Marc's research is focused on the theory of choice; the con uence of rational thinking and ethical values in decision making; and the use of mathematical theories of measurement to articulate the subjectivity of human behaviour. Marc holds a Ph.D. in Decision Sciences from INSEAD. He has a graduate degree from the Paris Graduate Management School and an undergraduate degree in mathematics from University Paris VI.
"The circumstances faced by organisations and Board Directors are both dynamic and transformational. These circumstances add risks are also opportunities to build a more resilient operating environment depending on decisions taken by the board. Today's session with Professor Marc Le Menestrel teaches us to modify and change our way of thinking and feeling before deciding – which I feel is critical for concrete decision under extreme conditions coupled with unexpected difficulties. It also teaches me that in a world full of surprises, we need to stay motivated by what is truly important to us (individually) and be ourselves at the board, and offer our ability to influence the dynamics of board discussions and decisions."
- Peter Tan, Board Director, SMRT Corporation
According to McKinsey & Company, boards must keep close watch on the shifting nature of their role in today's corporations and find the right balance between governance and management. Greater responsibilities require increased commitments of time and energy, not only during board meetings but also between meetings to stay current and to learn more about the industry, the company, its competitors, and its customers. These responsibilities also raise the premium on carefully protecting the independence that makes boards valuable allies to senior executives, shareholders, and a diverse array of other stakeholders.