Upcoming Events

There are no upcoming events.

Rapid technological change ‘is disrupting leadership’

Mark Braithwaite, Odgers Berndtson

At a recent gathering in London, a group of chairs, chief executives and senior managers came together to talk about a book. Written by Mark Braithwaite, the Asia Pacific managing director for global headhunting firm Odgers Berndtson, Leadership Disrupted argues that the pace of technological change is creating a level of complexity that is “overtaking our ability to process and make effective decisions”.

More brutally, the book suggests that up to half the people currently on leadership teams may be unsuited to coping with the current accelerated rate of technological change and the demands it makes of their skills. In addition, boards may in fact be blocking some companies from coming to terms with the strategic transformation needed to keep up.

This conclusion came from interviews with 70 leaders from multinational corporations—63 Asia Pacific leaders of global companies and seven chief executives of Western multinationals headquartered in Asia.

Braithwaite’s book is not about technology, but the thorny topic of leaderships at a time when change is so fast it has become the “biggest disruptor of all”.

A flexible mindset

Braithwaite focuses on three core areas: strategy, talent and leadership, how they work together and the challenges each presents.

Strategy is particularly tricky, because “the five-year plan is obsolete, and mature companies are really struggling with this”. One leader told Braithwaite: “Our business plan from 2016 is not worth the paper it is written on.”

Talent management is also being transformed. Employees seek a more personal and direct relationship with their bosses, want their employers to be good for society and have a sense of purpose, and they want investment in their own professional development.

In terms of leadership, the Asia Pacific region throws up specific challenges as customers demand change faster than companies can adjust. Leaders, according to Braithwaite, need a new mindset to cope with the flexibility needed to keep up. And that is hard to achieve across all levels of an organisation.

“To operate in a diverse environment, one has to let go of what we believe and agree with other people, listen to something new and make a transition”

—Mark Braithwaite

The rest of the book is an exploration of those themes and the measures companies are taking to cope. But the warnings about managers ill-suited to disruption and boards proving an obstacle to change sound off like sirens.

First boards. Braithwaite draws his observations from comments made by Belgian leadership consultant Rik Vera when addressing the need for a new mindset.

“Boards are the biggest problem,” says Vera in the book. “They still look for long-term, rigid plans.

“In some sectors they are so stuck on old business models and assets that they will not need in the future, that I predict 50% will not survive.”

That’s a disturbing thought—and Braithwaite adds some detail to the diagnosis. He describes the issue as possibly explained by non-executives who have been away from the front line for a number of years and have not had to directly confront the technology changes that today’s executives face.

“They’re one step removed from that,” says Braithwaite, who goes on to cite the changes made by Adobe as an example of a company and leadership that changed its mindset. When confronted with a changing marketplace the software provider decided to dump software on a disc in a box for a subscription service based in the cloud. “That took a lot of courage,” says Braithwaite.

But does that mean changing the mindset of those chairing boards and their non-executive teams? “Absolutely,” says Braithwaite, and he goes on to argue for “cognitive diversity” in the boardroom. “To operate in a diverse environment, one has to let go of what we believe and agree with other people, listen to something new and make a transition.”

New interventions

As for the 50% of leadership team members currently unsuited for coping with disruption, Braithwaite describes it as an “amazing statistic”. But, he quickly points out, chief executives suddenly sacking their leaders and recruiting replacements from the opposition would be a “disaster”. “There aren’t enough leaders as it is,” he says.

So, there has to be another solution. “I think there’s going to be—and I’m seeing this within the companies I interviewed—a much greater emphasis on training and retraining mindset,” says Braithwaite.

And this may come in new and diverse forms rather than the traditional short-term stay at a business school.

Braithwaite anticipates “different kinds of interventions to open minds”. This might include visits to fast-moving companies in other sectors, such as Silicon Valley; job interviews might include new techniques such as “gaming” simulations. There will also be pressure on recruiters and headhunters to develop new tools.

Braithwaite is at pains to stress that his book is not doom-mongering for the business world. However, it is unquestionably an abrupt wake-up call.

“When there isn’t a crisis, or a crisis potentially coming, that’s when it’s hard to actually invest in doing something new, like the Adobe story.

“That’s where the challenge is… But from my interviews, I’m confident that a lot of those companies [interviewed] are going to do quite well through this.”

The post Rapid technological change ‘is disrupting leadership’ appeared first on Board Agenda.


West Midlands Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust – Non-Executive Director

Non-Executive Director – West Midlands Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (WMAS) WMAS is one of the top performing ambulance trusts in the country and has been recognised as Ambulance Service of the Year for seven consecutive years. This is an exceptional opportunity to share your talents and expertise to make a positive difference to the lives […]

The post West Midlands Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust – Non-Executive Director appeared first on NEDworks.


BRE Group – Chair

Chair – BRE Group Recruiter: BRE Group Location: Watford, Hertfordshire Salary: £70,000 per annum, 4 days per month, 3 year Fixed Term Contract Posted: 27 Jun 2019 Closes: 19 Jul 2019 Job Function: Chair Industry: Public An international, multi-disciplinary building science organisation, BRE has been making a positive difference in the built environment since 1921, […]

The post BRE Group – Chair appeared first on NEDworks.


Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust – Non-Executive Director

Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust – Non-Executive Director Recruiter: Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust Location: Huddersfield Salary: £13,137 per annum (for 2 to 3 days per month) Posted: 24 Jun 2019 Closes: 14 Jul 2019 Job Function: Non Executive Director Industry: Health, Public Delivering outstanding compassionate care to the communities we serve Calderdale […]

The post Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust – Non-Executive Director appeared first on NEDworks.


The Canal and River Trust – Chair / Cadeirydd

Chair / Cadeirydd – The Canal and River Trust Recruiter: The Canal & River Trust Location: Wales Salary: Unremunerated Posted: 20 Jun 2019 Closes: 08 Jul 2019 Job Function: Chair Industry: Charities Position Type: Voluntary / Trustee Chair / Cadeirydd Bwrdd Glandŵr Cymru Pro-Bono The Canal & River Trust is the national charity that cares […]

The post The Canal and River Trust – Chair / Cadeirydd appeared first on NEDworks.


Central England Co-operative – Non-Executive Director

Non-Executive Director – Central England Co-operative Business / Organisation Name: Central England Co-operative Business / Organisation Sector: Private Business / Organisation Website: https://www.cecjobs.coop/vacancy-details/10578 Business / Organisation Type: Private Company Role Title: Non-Executive Director Remuneration: Paid Role Description Independent Non-Executive Director (Chair of the Audit & Risk Committee) Approximately 20 days annual commitment £9,104 p.a. (includes Audit & Risk Committee supplement) Central […]

The post Central England Co-operative – Non-Executive Director appeared first on NEDworks.


UNICEF – Trustee

Trustee – UNICEF Recruiter: UNICEF Location: Stratford and New Town, London (Greater) (GB) Salary: Unremunerated Posted: 20 Jun 2019 Closes: 17 Jul 2019 Ref: 4218 Position/Level: Board Responsibilities: Executive Management, Finance Sector: Not for Profit / Charity Contract Type: Voluntary / Trustee Language: English Join us to create a world fit for every child Unicef […]

The post UNICEF – Trustee appeared first on NEDworks.


Press release: Car dealer banned for 11 years for withholding clients’ money

Sevenoaks second-hand car dealer disqualified for mis-selling luxury vehicles and misappropriating £77,000 worth of customer’s funds. […]

‘Single all-encompassing framework’ needed for sustainability reporting

sustainability reporting, ESG

When it comes to sustainability reporting, corporate accounting departments are confronted with a plethora of choices; a huge number of systems that could be used to report a company’s environmental, social and governance credentials. This perhaps explains why one key finding from a recent research project was a call for “a single all-encompassing framework”.

It wasn’t the only finding. Undertaken by the Better Alignment Project, a working group established by the Corporate Reporting Dialogue (CRD), the research also found that connections between different reporting frameworks are poorly communicated to users, while the frameworks also differ in the language and taxonomy they use.

Participants in a series of roundtables told researchers that there was also confusion between frameworks over definitions of materiality. Others worried that much of the current activity on corporate reporting is focused on large, listed companies while offering little focus on the needs of SMEs. There was also a call for more attention to sector-specific reporting.

This all provides food for thought for the alignment project, which brought together the providers of five different reporting systems—the CDP, the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)—to see how they could work together to harmonise their own reporting systems with the climate-related disclosure guidelines published in 2017 by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), a project of the G20’s Financial Stability Board.

The Better Alignment Project seeks to uncover how the systems overlap—where they are essentially asking for disclosure of the same information—and how it will help fulfil the demands of TCFD reporting. They also aim to highlight the gaps that need filling.

Growing pressure

Not all reporting systems are the same. They may differ on the information they require disclosed, the definitions they use, the measures that are valid and, as already mentioned, the language they use to mean much the same thing. It’s enough to cause your average corporate reporting specialist to throw it all in and seek a new career.

It’s important that the preparers of company reports have form of alignment because it will only make it easier to make disclosures relevant to the planet’s biggest issue: climate change. Indeed, companies are under growing pressure to comply with TCFD’s reporting requirements to disclose their climate-related risks and opportunities.

A recent TCFD status report encouraged companies to speed up the pace at which its guidelines are implemented. According to the report: “Given the urgent and unprecedented changes needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, the Task Force is concerned that not enough companies are disclosing information about their climate-related risks and opportunities.”

Will framework providers get together to form a single organisation delivering an “all encompassing” one-stop shop for sustainability reporting? That’s unlikely any time soon, despite requests. Current systems are designed to serve different audiences in different jurisdictions with different objectives. Pulling them together would be a much bigger job than aiming for better alignment.

Wim Bartels, programme lead at the CRD, told a briefing this week that though informal conversations had included talk of a single organisation with a single reporting framework, the obstacles were too high.

“It’s easy to say that. It’s very difficult to do it,” he said.

In September the CRD will produce a report that will include a map laying out where the five reporting frameworks help with TCFD reporting, and where there are gaps. Bartels foreshadowed publication by saying there was less “misalignment” than many in the market believe. That at least should provide some aid to corporate reporting departments.

The post ‘Single all-encompassing framework’ needed for sustainability reporting appeared first on Board Agenda.


Tearfund – Fundraising Trustees

Fundraising Trustees – Tearfund Recruiter: Tearfund Location: Nationwide Salary: Not Specified Posted: 21 Jun 2019 Closes: 09 Jul 2019 Job Function: Trustees Industry: Charities Tearfund is committed to following Jesus where the need is greatest. We are a Christian international relief and development agency working globally to end poverty and injustice, and to restore dignity […]

The post Tearfund – Fundraising Trustees appeared first on NEDworks.