The GC-CEO Relationship post Global Financial Crash: Flourish or Flounder? My pamphlet – the first of a series on leadership – was published today. Available on Amazon…

… here: The GC-CEO Relationship post Global Financial Crash: Flourish or Flounder? [Kindle Edition] and the paper and PDF versions HERE

The General Counsel-Chief Executive Officer relationship, post Global Financial Crash, is under strain. The “generic” GC-CEO relationship is not what it should be. Many fear the other, feel frustrated with the other, and feel ambivalent about the other. The problem isn’t about lack of agreement on purpose, but on execution. If GCs won’t exploit their proximity to “the business” why not outsource the lot? “New Law” makes this easier. Equally, the “diving catch”, commonly performed by Legal, is not sustainable. The quality of the GC-CEO relationship is a “top and emerging” risk. Major risk events are inevitable if the GC and CEO fail to work together to create an environment in which a compliant, ethical and purposeful culture can flourish. Leadership and behavioural change consultant, Ciarán Fenton, argues for a shared understanding set out in an internal GC-CEO Memorandum of Understanding, one that addresses both the generic relationship issues and those specific to the organisation. This requires change – on both sides. In this pamphlet, Ciarán sets out the nature of the change required and offers a solution, based on his extensive senior business leadership and consulting experience and his tried and tested model, The Fenton Model™.

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Three lessons for business leaders from Mr. Cameron’s leadership on the #taxcredits…

…issue which ended in defeat last night in The House of Lords: First, a business purpose which risks the alienation of 3 million stakeholders is flawed, unless your risk management systems mitigate that risk. Even if you agree with his purpose – high wages, low welfare – you cannot ignore Mr. Cameron’s failure to mitigate that risk. Second, a business strategy which uses stringent cost cuts with promises of jam tomorrow is a flawed strategy because it ignores normal human behaviour: none believe in jam tomorrow, even if the jam is cunningly and catchily branded as National Living Wage by 2020. Third, a CEO must create an environment in which their team members thrive, especially the CFO. Mr. Osborne, to put it mildly, will not be thriving after last night nor will the business of Government. 

Of course I did warn Mr. Cameron in a previous blog that if he used the PSB approach to his leadership – resilient Purpose, Strategy and Behaviours – he would avoid much trouble. I even offered him a pro bono programme to the annoyance of some of my clients. Perhaps he didn’t read my blog. I dunno. I’m merely doing my civic duty being as I am a member of the “swarm” and a “marauding migrant” (admittedly via Aer Lingus 1989 and not Calais 2015)  keen to demonstrate rather than assert how a richly diverse England can be good for its future. In that you may rightly gather that it’s not just welfare beneficiaries that Mr. Cameron (and Ms. May) has alienated. He has four years left. I hope he learns from his mistakes as those of us in business should if, on reflection, our own PSBs  – Purpose, Strategy and Behaviours are flawed. 

Ciaran

Great to hear @accenture: “Forcing rankings…we’re done with that”…

…regarding performance reviews. See http: Accenture. They join a growing list. My experience with clients is that this issue  is, at best, a source of deep frustration and, at worst, involves ethical compromises. Performance review rankings positively mitigate against developing leaders. Good leadership is about creating an environment in which people thrive. This is the role of the CEO and not HR, who are often saddled with the job by poor CEOs.  I have never but never heard anyone say that performance review rankings help people thrive. But some big brand names still use them, presumably because they feel that they must have a system, no matter how flawed. They might find reassurance in the stories of a growing number of companies who have had the courage to change. 

Ciaran

Pleased to be asked to give keynote and lead a workshop at National Grid Annual Legal Conference later today @Grid_Media…

…and, in preparing for this, I had not realised before reading the stats how massive National Grid is in business terms: £3.9 billion in operating profit last financial year with a 7% underlying rate base growth. Looking forward to understanding what leadership and behavioural change  challenges that level of activity create for the Legal team…

Ciaran

Off to meet @BjarneTellmann for my #CoffeeWithFenton series for @GlobalLegalPost. Would have preferred lunch…

…but lawyers are busy people. Especially the GC of Pearson. I’m not a journalist so this will be more chat than interview. I’m interested in his views on the GC-CEO relationship, lawyers as leaders and running Legal as a business unit. I like what he’s saying in the trade press about the importance of old and new law becoming strategic partners of in-house. He’s a fan of Bernard Marr so I guess he’s metrics mad. I better behave because he has a Black Belt in karate. My next chat will be with Jeremy Barton GC of Boston Consulting Group. Watch this space. 

Ciaran

Helpful arguments, apart from her last, by @lucykellaway as to why the listing of values by companies is a waste…

…of time. The piece in today’s FT is helpful because, for me at least, it explains what I have always known but struggled to articulate that, for example, the assertion by a company that “integrity” is one of its “values” is “particularly feeble”, according to Lucy Kellaway because “it makes no sense to assert integrity as a value, as no one would ever dream of asserting the reverse”. Love the use of the word “feeble”. Made me laugh. She goes on to analyse in a similar vein the rest of a typical values list. However, I disagree with the end of the piece where she quotes a statistic that those FTSE companies which do not publish values outperform those that do, by a whopping 70% as if this proves her point. It might do. But it might also suggest that their performance was because of dodgy values. What does her “man in our statistics department” have to say about that? 

Ciaran

John Plender’s @FT piece on governance refers to “risks inherent in flawed cultures” makes me wonder if ever “flawed culture” has appeared on a risk register…

…and also makes me feel that for every organisation that won’t change it’s culture there must be at least one that doesn’t know how. His sobering piece,which refers to empty promises on corporate culture reform, is worth a read by those interested in risk foresight.

Ciaran