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Chief Executive Officer & Board of Directors

Leaders on reimagining boards for a new era

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The Heidrick & Struggles survey, Foundations and Building Blocks for High-performing Boards, Asia Pacific Governance Report 2014, identified four capabilities of top boards, with nine drivers feeding into those capabilities.

Some of these four key capabilities were expected, but others were ranked higher than previous surveys in order of importance – such as Innovation, or “the capacity of boards to consider and adapt to risks associated with innovation”.

The “people” capability related to succession and generational change, while “vision” covered “the clarity of a strategy that needs to be widely shared and understood” by the board.

“Leadership” was described in the report as “the ability of the chair to promote a team dynamic which enhanced the probability of corporate success.”

We asked six leading Australian chairs and directors, three in Sydney and three in Melbourne, to comment on the findings under the capability and driver headings, and to share their thoughts on how boards can tackle the challenges of disruptive business models and generational changes facing boards in the 21st century.

All agreed that boards in Australia are at a tipping point in terms of generational change. There was also consensus on the fact that business is grappling with a new digital era which is seeing disruptive change, with many products and services being disintermediated by new software breakthroughs.

How to assess strategic risk is challenging many boards, as is the need to create new cultures in their organisations to reflect new business strategies.

Diversity, not only of skills, gender and nationality, but of thought, was seen as critical in a more flexible, rapidly changing era. As one chair told us: “You need diversity of players in a team. You can’t win with the same players.”

Each board member chose one or more of the capabilities and drivers on which to comment. Their views, in their own words, are outlined on the following pages.


Fergus Kiel Regional Managing Partner +61 2 82052000

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