I spoke last week with one of our leading Non Executive Directors and current Chair of an ASX 50 company.
Given recent events & press headlines – including that innovative take on data protection in Panama – that word came up again: Culture.
Interestingly the takeaway from the discussion was the strong view that Directors and Boards today need to take a more active role regarding culture.
“A more active role in not just shaping and determining the culture around the boardroom table, but also in probing, testing and challenging the leadership team as to how that culture works throughout the organisation on a day to day basis. The danger here is to listen to the same voices and risk being complacent.”
Some may feel they can let this evolve implicitly but for most the best way to do this is to be explicit.
How can this be done?
Inside and outside of the organisation.
Ask them often.
Use this to develop a truly effective ‘radar’ or ‘sixth sense’ to spot red flags or smoke signals which in isolation may not amount to much but collectively, suggest that closer scrutiny may be required.
As noted in my post last week and is becoming clearer by the day in practice, ‘tone at the top’ simply cannot be assumed to automatically equal the ‘tone in the middle’. Our discussion continued noting that “often blockages in performance come in the middle.”
In conclusion I asked what the secret was to a strong culture at the heart of a strong working governance framework.
And one that is not mutually exclusive from being commercial, winning in the market or reaching goals.
And that seems a reasonable place to start.