Welcome to the December 2012 edition of The Director’s Dilemma.
This month our real life case study considers the peaks in a professional director’s workload and the respondents offer suggestions on how to manage the issue without harming important political relationships.
Consider: Which response would you choose and why?
Stuart is a well-respected professional company director who has developed a prominent profile in his industry. He is president of the industry association and has recently been appointed to Chair the board of a government-owned organisation that is a highly important part of the industry ecosystem.
He has been pleasantly surprised by the diligence and contribution of his directors and the professional expertise of the CEO and management team. He also loves being able to contribute to the strategic development of the industry even though the Chairmanship pays less than his other industrial roles as a NED.
The Minister clearly appreciates his expertise and has taken to asking Stuart to speak at functions which the Minister either cannot attend or is not confident to address. He also drops by the office for coffee and advice as well inviting Stuart to attend a lot of official functions and conferences.
The Minister has recently planned an overseas study trip which Stuart is concerned will take him away from his other boards (and this one) for a length of time that will be harmful to the companies.
The workload is spinning out of control and Stuart, who usually sees himself as highly organised and capable, is starting to feel that he isn’t coping and that something is going to be missed. He has tried turning down the requests from the Minister’s office citing workload and pre-existing commitments but these polite refusals are rejected and he is told that he ‘must’ attend as part of his role.
Stuart is happy that his expertise is recognised but can’t spread himself this thin. He doesn’t want to resign any of his board seats as the workload should be easily manageable were it not for the constant time demands from his Minister.
How should Stuart handle this issue?