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How to deal with big egos in the boardroom

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How to get a group of intelligent, high-achieving, confident people with different opinions, perspectives and backgrounds to work effectively together, towards the same goal? Is there any winning recipe?

The art of managing large egos in the boardroom is a very common challenge for the board.

Lay the foundation for successful board work – take part of our tips and advice.

The recipe for successful board work

Forward-leaning companies now consciously strive to fill their boardrooms with members who possess different skills and experiences.

Modern companies know that diversity is an important ingredient in creating successful corporate governance and avoiding narrow, uniform lines of thought.

It goes without saying, it becomes impossible to avoid friction and tension when the boardroom is filled with confident people with different backgrounds, perspectives and expertise.

“To create energy, you need friction”

Does this have to be something that is bad or harmful? Debate, twisting and turning facts according to different perspectives is one of the most important factors in achieving successful board work. A guarantee that the best decisions can really be made. The difficulty is to ensure that it does not lead to a full-scale and draining conflict.

So, how do you manage to deal with big egons, friction and rivalry, to ultimately reach the goal, to make the absolute best decisions for the company?

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Why high-performing egos are good for the board

Ego often has an unfair negative connotation, but if you think about it, it’s really just the opposite. Ego is about trust in one’s own ability. The ego is your self-image, your social mask. A large ego with high self-confidence mixed with experience, knowledge and self-knowledge is a winning recipe for the successful board.

Companies at the forefront are often very careful to only recruit board members who are so confident that they freely share their ideas and expertise without any problems.

Passionate people who dare to speak up and question each other’s opinions are the ultimate board member for successful companies. The difficulty lies in finding members who always have the company’s best interests at heart, instead of their own careers and who can cooperate regardless of whether you agree or not.

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How to deal with disagreements on the board

Contradictions are almost inevitable in a functioning board and should be seen as something positive. In the absence of disagreements and disagreements, it is a serious sign that the board is ineffective.

Lack of diversity hampers a broader perspective and new, innovative solutions, which in the long run negatively affect the company’s results.

A board that can handle different perspectives and contradictions will undoubtedly be more successful than a nuanced and uniform board that never thinks new and harrows on in old ruts.

“An effective board is a board where contradictions are a positive force that adds value. In a dysfunctional board, contradictions turn into full-scale conflicts. “

When contradictions arise, a common impulse is to smooth over the whole thing and stick your head in the sand. It is by far the worst thing you can do and poisons the entire board work.

To make the best decisions, you need to embrace your contradictions and different perspectives, lifting them to the surface to enable the best decisions for the company to really be made. In a broad and diversified board, everyone is listened to and everyone contributes.

To succeed, a high ceiling is required and that new ideas and different opinions are always welcomed.

The company’s best interests should always be in focus

This may sound obvious, but is often difficult in practice, even for the most professional board members, to completely put aside both prestige, power plays and individual opinions.

But, making decisions only for the good of the company is the job and responsibility of the board member, whether one agrees or not. If you can’t do that, you should probably think about whether you are really in the right place.

Directors who fight bloody hard just to get their own opinions through, instead of looking at what is actually the best solution or decision for the company, hamper the board’s efficiency and success.

Here, the role of the Chairman of the Board is crucial and he or she should always work to promote an atmosphere where everyone feels included and as an important part of the whole.

The challenge is to get board members to understand that the company’s best interests are their number one priority. Power games, prestige or personal conflicts do not belong in the boardroom.

The chairman of the board must be able to manage the boardroom

Choose a chairman who knows how to manage the entire dynamics of the boardroom, who knows how to break destructive patterns and avoid fruitless conflicts.

His job is to guide the discussions that arise and create the conditions for successful board work where only the best decisions are hammered through. It is often said that a board never gets better than its chairman.

When it comes to dealing with egos, there is unfortunately not one solution that suits everyone. It makes it easier if the chairman has a deep knowledge and understanding of each board member’s unique skills and experience. They can use this to successfully drive the board’s work forward.

Their job is to help and guide the board to reach the consensus, not to do it for them.

Don’t ignore the little things

A little tip along the way is not to ignore the little things. It’s easier to stick with the ego when the stakes are low. Trivial issues that in practice do not entail any real consequences are where conflicts most easily begin and take off.

Finally, contradictions and big egos will always be part of an effective and professional board work. Do not be afraid, embrace it and see it as part of the process of successful board work, a positive force.

Listen to everyone’s opinions, all members should be given the space to contribute, everyone is equally important and in their own way contributes with their unique competence to the board being able to make the right decisions. Remember, a board full of Yes sayers does not build successful companies.

What parts do you think are most important for successful board work?

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