In the lions’ den: boardroom conflict management

How can you hone the skills to manage conflict in the boardroom?

‘The CEO states their case. Silence falls across the table. The Chair murmurs before unleashing a rather emotional appeal of dissent. Other stakeholders begin to chime in, before all hell breaks loose…’

Unfortunately, this can be the reality of some board meetings. It can often feel overwhelming for a governance professional, frantically trying to record the minutes while also keeping the discussion on track. How can this situation be handled? What are the good practice tips for conflict management?

The modern boardroom contains a diverse cast of characters, with differing priorities and targets. As a governance professional, you must be well equipped to help facilitate constructive debate. In order to make this happen, you must be neither too sheepish in guiding the path of the conversation, nor too bullish in shutting down the debate. This is where emotional intelligence comes into play.

Emotional intelligence is a must for conflict management, representing the ability to listen and empathise with all sides, so that the most rational and beneficial outcome can be negotiated. For instance, there will often be conflict between the priorities of the executive and non-executive, and research has suggested that 75% of chair-CEO relationships are in some way dysfunctional. Even when the relationship between members is healthy, disagreements can still happen, because humans are – ultimately – driven by emotion.

The CGIUKI Competency Framework for Governance Professionals is good starting point to assess your existing emotional intelligence. Furthermore, CGIUKI have put together the Emotional Intelligence for Governance Professionals Masterclass course with a view to helping governance professionals to tackle conflict in the boardroom and developing your abilities in the wider context of emotional intelligence.

The course covers:

  • the emotional intelligence business case
  • the concept of psychological safety and how this can be created
  • skills and strategies for managing uncertainty
  • the concept of ‘Our Worldview’
  • personal and social competence
  • managing conflict
  • recognising and effectively operating within power bases.

If you are interested in signing up your team or yourself to our Emotional Intelligence for Governance Professionals Masterclass course, register your interest.

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