Improving Boardroom Conversations

Improving the quality of boardroom conversations is essential if we are going to avoid the sorts of failures of governance and leadership seen in the public, private and third sectors over the past ten years.

Most of the work of Board members is done in face-to-face conversation, whether it be holding the Executive to account, co-creating strategy, challenging performance or setting the tone for the organisation. It is impossible to be a great leader without great skill in face-to-face conversation.

“the work of the Board is thinking and conversation is thinking out loud”
Good Governance Forum, 2015

Our Improving Boardroom Conversations Programme looks at the quality of boardroom conversations from a systems perspective. Usually delivered over a six-to-nine month period, the programme:

  • examines how well a Board works within the broader organisational system
  • assesses the particular strengths and development needs of the Board and of individual Board members
  • explores the ‘conversational balance’ on the Board and highlights any patterns of conversation that have become stuck or sterile
  • teaches Board members how to intervene to create great boardroom conversations.

Would it work for your Board?

If your Board ever finds itself:

  • Making decisions that aren’t carried into action
  • Discussing the same issue over and over again and making little progress
  • Thinking you have consensus at the Board meeting and discovering afterwards there was silent dissent
  • Dealing with sabotaging behaviours
  • Experiencing conflict between factions on the Board
  • Wondering how to deal with ‘personality clashes’
  • Feeling that the Board is ‘going through the motions’
  • Stifled by traditional approaches to governance

…then this Programme is for you.

The benefits of the programme

  • Better boardroom conversations
  • Board members able to make their best contribution to the Board
  • A better balance between advocacy and enquiry
  • Increased self-awareness of Board members
  • Increased awareness of Board interactions and conversational traps
  • Better relationships, enhanced trust and greater mutual understanding between Board members
  • Less time wasted in unproductive conversations

The Approach

Everything in our Improving Boardroom Conversations Programme is co-created, which means we work with you to design the detail of the bespoke interventions required for your Board and its membership. The standard features of our Programme include:

  • A half day ‘getting to know you’ session to identify the boardroom issues you want to address, your intended outcome and individual Board members’ objectives. With your guidance, we will shape the Programme and the range of interventions required and agree how the success of the Programme will be evaluated
  • Board observation and feedback. Two of our Board interventionists will observe you at one or two Board meetings (and, if relevant, committees of the Board) and feedback their shared reflection
  • Each member of the Board will complete the Kantor Behavioural Propensities Profiling Instrument (BPP). The BPP looks at a person’s behavioural preferences in face-to-face conversation: the moves they make, the internal rules that govern their interactions with others, and the language they use in conversation. We will provide a comprehensive, confidential feedback report and an in-depth feedback and coaching session for each Board member. In addition, we will provide a full Board/team feedback report
  • A one-day Board feedback session at which we share all the information we have collected and interpreted, reflect together on the implications, and provide recommendations for how boardroom conversations and Board performance can be improved. We will teach Board members how to expand their behavioural profile, create conversational balance in the boardroom, identify and overcome stuck patterns of conversation and have better governance and leadership conversations
  • A half day follow up session to reflect on progress and create a full Board Development Plan.

The Approach – Further Options

In addition to the standard features, we can also offer specific coaching for Board members from highly skilled coaches who have experience of being non-executive directors.

For example, where a Board is in ‘high stakes’ – where a Board is under pressure, where relationships and trust have broken down and negative behaviours are emerging – we can offer a 2-day module on identifying and managing high stakes behaviours in oneself and others. This includes the use of the Kantor High Stakes Instrument which measures our default behaviours when we operate under pressure.


Our standard package, comprising all of the interventions listed in ‘The Approach’ above, is valued at £7,750 plus VAT and expenses*. However since this is a fully co-created programme, the package of interventions undertaken can be tailored to suit the individual needs and budget of each Board. As a result, our pricing is flexible.

If you would like to discuss how the programme could benefit your Board, please contact Mark on 0131 344 4611 or drop him an email at

*Expenses comprise travel and subsistence and will be recharged at cost. We assume the client will prefer to host the face-to-face coaching sessions and workshops in their offices, however we are happy to arrange venues and catering for any or all of the sessions and these will be recharged at cost.