Bickering, bullying and bad decisions – Is your Board/Committee guilty?

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Web-image_Bickering,-bullying-and-bad-decision-–-Is-your-board-guiltyA unified vision for the future is the only way forward for clubs

By John Dickson | Managing Director |

The majority of Boards//Committees of not-for-profit associations like clubs are made up of well-intended members who want the best for their club and their community. However, as can happen in any varied group, add a splash of passion, a disagreement on vision and a clash of ideas, and suddenly a lack of unity in the Board/Committee creates a toxic environment that can seriously hinder success and halt the critical decision-making process.

While individualism and an exchange of ideas are imperative for growth, failing to compromise for the greater good to achieve a unified decision is all too common. When Board/Committee conflict arises, there are significant consequences:

  • Qualified members could leave;
  • Valuable time is wasted;
  • Progress is stagnated;
  • Poor decisions are made due to bullying or intimidation;
  • Rather than it being a rewarding experience, it becomes a frustrating and argumentative environment.

Worse still, a club could face significant penalties for breaching regulations and laws:

  • Breaches of government regulations and laws incurring significant penalties for directors and/or that club;
  • Breaches of bank covenants which can result in withdrawal of funds;
  • In the worst case scenario, loss of control of the club through administration or receivership.

Regrettably it is the members who ultimately pay the price with no decisions, or poor decisions, by Board/Committee members who will not compromise for the greater good. In this industry of heavy competition and rapid change, these stumbling blocks can make or break a club.

So how do you fix it?

The most logical fix is with sound strategic planning and corporate governance training overseen by an impartial third party. An external voice of reason and calm amongst a passionate Board/Committee can often smooth the process, mediate the disagreements, and propel the club in the successful direction that all Boards/Committees and members ultimately want.

Boards and committees are often confronted by complex issues and potential conflict situations that require decisions to be made. Through regular independent assessment, corporate governance training, and structured policies and procedures, an organisation can ensure that its governing entity acts appropriately and in the best interests of the shareholders, staff and members.

Planning the business of your organisation is an integral part of the role of your Board, committee and management in order to provide the strategic direction necessary for long-term growth and prosperity of the organisation. It allows you to think through all facets of your business, examining strategies and their implications. By writing down your plan, you are forced to think about details and focus on the big picture rather than day to day issues.

Unity and progress can be achieved, and good decisions can be made by Board/Committee members who:

  • Respect the authority of the Chairman
  • Appoint subcommittees to determine an outcome for a disputed or complex issue
  • Ensure the chairman holds private meetings with dissenting Board/Committee members to resolve conflict
  • Stick to meeting timeframes and agendas
  • Develop and adhere to a simple Board/Committee code of conduct
  • Develop clear roles and responsibilities for individual directors with KPIs
  • Adhere to a strategic and business plan
  • Abide by the principles of good corporate governance
  • Understand their roles and responsibilities, and work within them
  • Appreciate that they are elected to steer and guide, and not to manage
  • Will accept majority opinion of the Board/Committee
  • Will maintain Board/Committee confidentiality
  • Recognise that they have no individual authority and that authority only resides in the collective Board/Committee’s decisions
  • Consider resigning if they cannot accept or abide by a majority Board/Committee decision

The key takeaways for all Board/Committee members is that conflict will occur, it is the strength of your strategy and your corporate governance that will define how well you manage that conflict, and ultimately how successfully you, as an organisation, will overcome it for the greater good of your community, your members, the club and yourselves.

If you think your Board/Committee could benefit from an impartial third party mediation of your strategic business planning and corporate governance, DWS can offer customised programs either internally, or off premise, to ensure that your club and your Board/Committee are oriented for a successful future. Contact John Dickson by phone on (07) 3878 9355 or via email at for a confidential discussion today.

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