The Boardroom II

A short thought. What can happen when conflict occurs at Board level?

There is a misnomer in some regards about conflict at Board level. You might recall me previously mentioning that conflict is scale free. By this I mean that conflict affects us all irrespective of our occupation or seniority. Some people believe that the more senior you are, the less conflict will be prevalent. This is not the case. In fact, often, individuals in the Boardroom might say that they arrived at such lofty heights because they aren’t backward in coming forward.

There is an added dimension though when it comes to Boardroom tension. Individuals at Board level lead teams – usually. Good leaders have followers. Sometimes this means that their behaviour will be mirrored lower down. A ripple effect. For example, if a marketing director falls out with the logistics director the end result can be that the marketing function and logistics functions cease to operate collaboratively. This can end up being very costly if messages aren’t passed on between middle managers who are responsible for implementation, but aren’t working effectively together.

This can affect the supply chain. Andreas Brinkhoff and Ulrich Thonemann researched 87 supply-chain projects over 3 years and found that over 50% of them failed. Of the 10 reasons listed for failure there are 3 that apply to today’s theme. They are:

  • Inadequate top management support
  • Insufficient trust between partners
  • Conflict not solved constructively

Even in these times of austerity, the business case for investing in conflict resolution skills at Board level remains compelling.