Ten practical tips for directors in 2021

by Stephen Conmy


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Given COVID-19, Brexit and the new administration in the USA, the world of business has probably never been as uncertain. You, as a director, need to be on your game like never before. Here are 10 practical tips for directors that you can apply immediately.

  1. Diversity and leadership
  2. Current business model
  3. Future strategy
  4. Boardroom skills of tomorrow
  5. New workforce resource model
  6. Culture and the blended resource model
  7. Unconscious bias
  8. Virtual board meetings
  9. Dynamic Reporting
  10. The next crisis

Diversity is Critical for Leadership in a Crisis

The COVID crisis has been a true test of leadership inside and outside the boardroom. The evidence of the leadership outside the board room has been that countries led by women have had fewer coronavirus cases and deaths. Countries with populist and economically right wing leaders were slow to react and implemented fewer health measures.

Further reading can be found in the Financial Times.

If this trend is reflected in the Boardroom, then companies with effective female leadership will be more likely to survive and finally debunk the myth that women are not as effective as men in the boardroom but may even be better.

Business models will need to evolve quickly

COVID has exposed those organisations that have not adapted their business model to changing times. Witness the UK highstreet and the casualties that have emerged. 177,000 jobs have been lost and more to come. (Reference The Guardian).

Another practical tip for directors, therefore, is for the Board to assess their current business model to see if it is fit for purpose

Future strategy needs to be done quickly

If the current business model is not fit for purpose then it needs to develop a new direction and strategy that is realistic and sustainable. The strength of the Balance sheet will determine the timescale for this.

New boardroom skills will be required.

A new strategy will require new NED skills. These could be digital transformation, cyber security, human capital management and corporate governance but due to demand could be in short supply. Data, IP and talent are the assets of the future and must be protected and nurtured.

New workforce resource model will be a blended one

According to a Renatus survey of over 1,000 respondents “Working from home looks set to remain in a post-Covid world with 68% of respondents expecting to work more from home post-Covid, with 38% of these expecting to work “significantly more” from home.

Culture and the blended workforce model will be a challenge

The UK Corporate Governance Code now places much more emphasis on culture in the Board. The challenges for many companies now will be on developing a culture that is supportive of the new hybrid working environment. Values will be critical.

Make better use of dynamic reporting

Most boards are presented with historical information that can be 4 – 6 weeks out of date. Boards should work with Executive teams to see what information can be presented that is current, such as sales forecasts, staff turnover, cost per lead etc to give the Board a better understanding of current status. Even better, make use of graphic reporting tools.

Plan for the next crisis now.

Very few organisations had this pandemic on their risk register. Board cannot afford to be so unprepared again. Future risk scenario planning and business continuity planning needs to be taken to a new level.

We hope that you have found these practical tips for directors useful and that you can apply some of them in your everyday life.

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