Why directors need to go back to school
Monday 22 July 1996
This does not refer to their prowess on stage. Rather, it means their ability to do the job.
One of the paradoxes of management is that while it is universally accepted that training is needed throughout the organisation below board level, few dare suggest it should apply to directors. Consequently, training courses for directors are few and far between. In the view of Bob Garratt, author of The Fish Rots from the Head (HarperCollins, pounds 18), this weakness must be remedied.
"Worryingly, under present institutional and legal structures, it is only in a crisis that directors might, much too late, become aware of what is required of them," he writes. An international consultant on director development and strategic thinking, he believes that not preparing directors adequately for their role lets them carry on doing what they were before - managing.
You might think that being a director is a reward for being an effective manager and requires little more than supervising the person who has taken on those responsibilities. But Mr Garratt sees a distinction between the hands-on business of managing and the more intellectual activity of directing.
The latter demands a broader approach and the ability to stand back from day-to-day tasks to concentrate on such issues as policy formulation, strategic thinking, management supervision and accountability. The board's job, he writes, is to keep striking balances between internal and external pressures on the organisation to ensure its survival. This entails giving a clear direction to the business and creating the climate in which others can align and attune themselves to that.
It is because many business people have spent their careers doing rather than thinking that they find this aspect of being a director daunting. He might add that this could also account for their susceptibility to the services of management consultants.
In the book - whose title stems from a Chinese proverb of dubious provenance - he sets out how this can be countered through developing directors in much the same way as their subordinates have been in recent years. But all is not lost. Mr Garratt is confident that, by following certain guidelines and learning processes, individual directors and boards as a whole can reach required levels of competence.
Companies are reluctant to send directors on courses because that might suggest they consider themselves incompetent. But Mr Garratt claims that courses run by organisations like the Institute of Directors are attracting interest from some companies.
- 1 Mario Balotelli: Staff at arson-hit Manchester Dogs' Home convinced Liverpool striker is behind five-figure donation
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
- 5 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned into a PR disaster
Scottish independence: Despite defeat history may still point to Alex Salmond as the victor
Scottish independence referendum: Frankie Boyle reacts to nation's 'No' vote - 'To be fair, I've always hated Scotland'
Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Scottish referendum: Police struggle to control Unionist rally in Glasgow's George Square
Glasgow 'riots': 'Dishonest' social media users accused of fuelling panic with pictures from London riots
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
iJobs Money & Business
£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...
Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...
£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...
To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...