Board Unity

Dissent in the board / leadership room

Leaders should debate vigorously, then STFU and unify behind their decision.

I’ve written elsewhere about what a company loses when its leaders shut down debate. This is more pronounced in those boards where dissent is viewed as treachery. People paid as decision-shapers effectively become an overpaid board of one.

But I’ve also seen leadership teams where there is constructive disagreement and debate, and the founder or CEO / MD is happy to hear those views. But too often, those disagreements continue outside of the boardroom, and end up with people aligning behind one or other leader, or starting to view the leadership as a politicised body. Or worse, switching off on the basis that the leadership doesn’t know what it’s doing.

It’s the responsibility of the CEO with her / his leadership team, and the Chair with his / her board to encourage debate and a fair hearing of the diversity that different members will bring to the debate, and then to get to consensus. But once a decision is made, each member of the leadership team needs to stand behind it, even if they disagreed.

Because to continue the dispute out into the company not only makes the decision unimplementable, but creates confusion and sows the seeds of tribalism.

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