SC: One is you're a good listener, and you've worked it out because you understand a framework that you've chosen. For example, Myers-Briggs is one everybody knows, it's not the only one. Find a framework, assess yourself, whether you are the chair or whether you're the company secretary or CEO. In assessing yourself and understanding how the framework works, you can assess others without them actually doing the exercise; you can pretty much guess where they might fit. If more than that is required to get the collective to go on this journey of understanding each other, [then you can] all do the same assessment and use that as a heat-map way of learning to work with one another with a degree of facilitation from an expert in that field. That's one end of the journey.
The other end of the journey is literally just learning yourself what the different characters are. And then [considering], if you're the company secretary, how would you support the chair not have to go through that whole learning [process] you did because they don't have time? How do they get the learning outcomes based on the individuals they have round the table? [For example,if] you have ‘ordered chair’, this is the kind of personality we have, they're likely to want the detail. They're comfortable with numbers, they can work with graphs, but words are not necessarily their strength. Here, we've got somebody who is a governance specialist, very good with words, putting together a case. Then you've got somebody who's sales, who's looking at leading indicators and graphs are the most important, and where does the commission fit in, of course. It's [about] working out, what are the things that drive those individuals to listen and to engage? If the company secretary can go to the chair and say, ‘this topic that we've got on the board is about risk. Now we've got that specific person who has industry knowledge and a high alertness to risk. Why don't you ask them about X, Y, and Z? You might find we get some insights.’ It'll only be where there’s new directors, new nuances, new topics, new complexities, new elephants in the room, that us dolphins then need to make sure that we’re supporting everyone to communicate.
The company secretary can equally help the senior independent director to listen to the voice of the non-executive directors. Non-executive directors might not want to talk to the chairman, they might not want to talk to the company secretary. But they're very happy to talk to the senior independent director, who, if chosen correctly by the nominations committee, has the respect of the chair, and is able to then have that adult conversation on behalf of the collective.
These are all the communication skills that we, as people around the table, can apply without having to head-butt.