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Going Fast or Going Far?

Choosing the right support and governance structure for your business.

The following hypothetical short story is designed to help you identify the right support and right governance model for your CEO journey. It is based upon experiences I have had as a CEO and as a board adviser.

As a CEO of a private company, the journey of leading and growing my business has been both exhilarating and challenging. Along this path, I’ve learned that continuous personal and professional development for me and my team members is key to driving and sustaining growth.  Over time, my approach to leadership support has evolved significantly. I want to share my experiences in transitioning from joining the CEO Advisory Board, appointing an Advisory Board, and finally, establishing a board with non-executive directors.

Each stage has been a significant evolution for me and been an invaluable contribution to the growth and success of my company.

Early in my career as CEO, I recognised the importance of seeking guidance and self-improvement. I worked with an executive coach. The benefits were immediate, helping me to identify my strengths, weaknesses, and leadership style. My coach enabled me to understand that it was OK for the CEO not to have to be seen as the smartest person in the room and helped me set goals for personal and professional growth.

As my company grew, I realised that I needed a broader support network. I was recommended the CEO Advisory Board.

CEO Advisory Board: 

Joining the CEO Advisory Board was a pivotal moment in my journey. This peer-to-peer support system provided invaluable benefits:

Confidentiality and Trust: Signing a confidentiality document and having a professional Chair created a safe space to enable me to discuss sensitive issues with my peers, and to learn from those who had experienced and addressed my specific challenges.

Diverse Perspectives: The group included CEOs from various industries, and some companies were larger than mine. Each CEO brought their unique perspective to the table. Their insights helped me see challenges from different angles and find innovative solutions.

Mutual Accountability: Being part of a group of peers who held me accountable for my actions ensured that I remained focused on my goals.

Shared Learning: We shared our successes and failures, enabling collective learning that benefited everyone.

Networking Opportunities: The connections I made within the group opened doors to new partnerships, collaborations, and business opportunities.

Being part of this group significantly broadened my horizons and enhanced my leadership abilities. But still, as my company’s complexity grew, so did the need for more structured advice.

My Advisory Board

Appointing an Advisory Board was a strategic decision that introduced a new level of expertise and guidance, all whilst enabling me to retain sole responsibility for all decisions and actions.

Specialised Knowledge: My Advisory Board members brought deep industry knowledge and experience to the table, helping us navigate complex issues and make informed decisions. As the business became more complex, we added new, relevant expertise to the board.

Strategic Planning: They assisted in developing long-term strategies and offered guidance on market trends, competitive analysis, and expansion opportunities.

Credibility: Having a well-respected Advisory Board added credibility to our company, inspiring confidence in our people, customers and all stakeholders.

Access to Networks: Our Advisory Board members have extensive networks, providing valuable introductions and connections that can facilitate business growth and expansion.

Supported by my Advisory Board meeting bi-monthly, we made significant strides in terms of understanding our potential and transforming the business.

Over time, as our company continued to scale, I recognised the need for more rigour in our board’s decision making. A new level of governance was required.

Non-Executive Directors

As my business has matured and became even more complex, the potential for the business is greater, with a multitude of opportunities – but so to, the risks are also much greater.

Appointing independent, non-executive directors to the board was the next right governance step.

Objective Oversight: our non-executive directors provide impartial, but vested oversight, ensuring that decisions were made in the best interest of the company and its stakeholders.

Enhanced Accountability: Their involvement has increased transparency and accountability throughout the organisation, aligning our actions with our mission and values.

Strategic Guidance: Their wealth of experience in corporate governance and strategic planning has proven invaluable in shaping our company’s long-term vision.

Risk Management: Our non-executive directors played a key role in risk management, helping us identify and mitigate potential issues proactively.

Succession Planning: As I contemplate the next steps for me and the business the directors provide invaluable guidance in how to navigate that transition.

My journey as a CEO has been characterised by continuous growth and development. Each stage of support—has provided unique and invaluable benefits. These transitions have not only facilitated my personal and professional growth but have also been instrumental in driving the success and sustainability of my company…

As you to reflect on where you and your business are today in terms of the support you need to work through the next stage of growth – is it time for you to move to another level of governance? Remember the African proverb, “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together!”

To discuss the “right governance” model for your business please reach out here

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