Board Leadership and Board Reviews

Boards constitute the ultimate leadership of organisations

They establish an interaction between executives who lead the organisation on a daily basis and non-executives who participate in the leadership in a non-executive or supervisory (and part-time) role. The quality of that interaction determines the performance and effectiveness of the board.

The governance and financial crises that marked the first decade of this century have triggered governance regulation that emphasises a stronger role of non-executives in the governance of companies. This generates new expectations of tasks and duties and creates new boardroom dynamics.

Non-executives can no longer be seen as outsiders who generously provide some feedback on the organisation’s realities as far as they become aware of them. They are deemed to have specific responsibilities that generate a distinct leadership role. At the surface, this is to ensure that boards do a professional job, that board members individually are committed and able to contribute substantively and that the monitoring role of non-executives towards executives is performed effectively.

When boards invest more deeply in this role, inevitably this leads to a more ambitious goal: to ensure that the interaction of executives and non-executives truly starts to work and contributes to the success of the organisation. This more ambitious goal can only be achieved when boards are willing to comprehensively review and develop their performance and to look at all systemic and behavioural factors that determine the effectiveness and performance of the board as a whole and its members in their roles. To do so requires a specific board capability that we call ‘reflective space’. It is the core competency of Phyleon to help boards build and develop this reflective space.

Board Review:

governance, group dynamics and personal contributions

In the context of a board review, we create reflective space by focusing on aspects related to the requirements that follow from the governance system, on the group dynamics between the executives (or Management Board) and non-executives (or Supervisory Board) as well as on the personal contributions made by their members. We have developed concepts and methodologies to assess and gain insight into the roles, and perceptions of the roles, of board members and the reality of the boardroom as perceived by them.

From there, we offer boards and board members more insight in their own performance and help them to develop within the constellation they operate in. In our board reviews, we link the interaction between the board members to the strategic and other challenges of the organisation, with a view to realising the organisation’s value to its stakeholders and society, such that the insight and development of the board can also be applied with a forward-looking perspective.

Executive (team) coaching:

from success to significance

Phyleon also provides coaching to individual leaders and executive teams. In executive coaching, Phyleon’s coaches help to create reflective space for leaders and leadership teams to review and develop their performance, looking at both systemic and behavioural aspects that determine effectiveness. Phyleon facilitates the transition from success to significance.

Coaching for non-executive directors:

individual & small intervision groups

Phyleon provides coaching to non-executive directors who are new in the board role or want to reflect on their performance. In a typical coaching program, the non-executives will explore their essential and evolving roles with the help of three lenses: System (objectives, rules, roles, procedures, meetings), Group (dynamics, social interaction, conflict, cohesion, hierarchy) and Person (traits, drives, fears, empathy). This helps to enable the non-executives to better identify and to more effectively handle the wide range of board dynamics.

Non-executives are also invited to develop the competence to handle dynamics both below and above surface and to see themselves as a critical part of the equation (‘self as tool’). We help non-executives to evaluate their strengths and to identify areas for improvement, with a set of instruments developed to help boards evaluate their own performance. The coaching and small group intervision is continuously informed by Phyleon’s knowledge on boards, board dynamics and governance.

Leadership in change:

advising leaders on a transformative course

In a change process, Phyleon focuses on the dynamics both within the organisation’s leadership, and between the leadership and the rest of the organisation. We often take the role of sounding board for leaders, helping them reflect on how the change in the organisation also affects them personally, in their roles, and their responsibilities. Leaders need to contain their own anxiety and the anxiety of their organisation and its people when embarking on a transformative course with inherently uncertain outcomes. In our approach, we incorporate the non-visible, non-rational and unconscious dimensions of the reality of organisations going through change.