We are pleased to publish our third and final installment of Deloitte’s 2021 Directors’ alert: A new era of board stewardship begins. When we published the first edition of our director interviews in December 2020, we saw a world in flux: the pandemic was raging around the world and many markets were just entering a winter spike in cases, occasioning more lockdowns and reduced economic activity. At the same time, other economies were recovering, and several of the directors we interviewed, particularly those in China and Southeast Asia, were beginning to draw conclusions about what the pandemic has meant for their businesses, and about the critical decisions their boards have taken that make the difference between success and failure. More than three months on, things remain unclear for many countries. While vaccines have arrived for some, the pandemic has not abated, and it has become clear that the vaccination process and the road to recovery will both be long.
For boards of directors, the rhythm of virtual board and committee meetings continues. New directors are being recruited, interviewed, and onboarded in a completely virtual environment, and the traditional board dinner the night before a meeting has fallen away to, at best, a few minutes of banter into a webcam at the beginning of a videoconference as directors assemble around the virtual boardroom table. And this is just the surface logistics of serving on a board in 2021. Looming much larger are the changes in business models, ways of doing business, and ways of thinking that are being challenged by the extended pandemic.
One theme that has come through in interview after interview has been uncertainty about which of the many changes we have experienced will prove permanent, and which will evaporate as the world transitions to some kind of new normal. These are not easy calls to make: Get it wrong and your business model will be disadvantaged; get it right and you may save your organization untold hours of time, energy, and resources. Tough decisions like these are why we have boards of directors in the first place. Strong and resilient boards will have the diversity of skills, backgrounds, and thought to make reasoned assumptions about the present and the future—and to constructively challenge management’s thinking—steering the organization through turbulent times.
Another theme that has come through in many of our interviews has been the changing societal role of corporations.
To read the full 'Deloitte’s 2021 Directors’ alert,' click the link below:
Authored by Sharon Thorne & Dan Konigsburg.
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