Governance and Risk: The Secretary Bird’s Approach

In this podcast, our CEO Sharon Constançon, shares her wisdom with company secretaries and governance professionals on overcoming role-specific hurdles, emphasising the importance of compartmentalising challenges, mastering feedback, and adopting strategies to stay composed under pressure. She underscores the significance of maintaining calm, the art of initiating crucial conversations to mend strained relations, owning mistakes gracefully, and strategies to avoid the perception of being an obstacle, thereby establishing oneself as a pillar of trust and expertise.
The Secretary Bird Analogy: The Anatomy of Governance and Risk Management

The secretary bird analogy serves as a compelling analogy between the company secretary’s role and the secretary bird. This bird, adept at navigating the African savannah, symbolises the company secretary’s function: to disarm potential dangers and navigate governance and risk with agility and foresight.

Embracing Feedback and Growth

The company secretary often operates behind the scenes, their contributions unseen and underappreciated. They find themselves in a catch-22: receiving feedback typically means it’s negative, while no news is interpreted as good news, a notion that hardly feels just or motivating. This lack of visible recognition can overshadow the significant value they bring to their role.

To navigate this, it’s crucial for company secretaries to actively seek out feedback. While the idea of feedback may seem daunting at first—fearing it may bring criticism—it actually serves as a pivotal opportunity for growth and self-improvement. Engaging with a variety of stakeholders for their perspectives not only sheds light on areas for development but also ensures that the pivotal work of the company secretary gains the acknowledgment it deserves. By openly communicating their actions and capabilities, they can shift the narrative, highlighting their indispensable role within the organisation.

Mastering the Multifaceted Role

A core aspect of a company secretary’s success lies in their ability to be resilient, agile, and impeccably organised. The ability to juggle multiple responsibilities, from strategic planning to crisis management, requires resilience and agility.

Organisational skills, coupled with a clear compartmentalisation of tasks, enables governance professionals to navigate their multifarious duties efficiently. One key strategy for staying on top of the ever-evolving demands of the role, is by setting structured schedules and leveraging technology to streamline workflow, to prevent the feeling of being overwhelmed by the “noise” of constant updates and demands.

The secretary bird analogy serves as a compelling analogy between the company secretary’s role and the secretary bird. This bird, adept at navigating the African savannah, symbolises the company secretary’s function: to disarm potential dangers and navigate governance and risk with agility and foresight.

We only get to grow if we stretch. To get comfortable [in a role] is not a good place for any of us in our roles.Sharon Constançon

Building and Repairing Board Relationships

Interpersonal dynamics within the boardroom can significantly impact governance outcomes and recognising and addressing strained relationships within the boardroom is crucial for a harmonious governance environment.

Initiating open conversations and offering a safe space for dialogue, are key strategies suggested by Sharon for mending strained relationships and fostering a cohesive board culture.

Recognising and addressing these underlying issues of discord can lead to more effective collaboration and strategic decision-making.

Embracing Mistakes and Offering Solutions

Mistakes are inevitable, yet their acknowledgment and rectification are marks of true leadership and are an integral part of personal and professional development. Company secretaries are encouraged to acknowledging when a strategy doesn’t yield the expected outcome and propose alternative approaches, thereby reinforcing their role as strategic enablers rather than blockers to innovation and growth.

Reframing the Governance Professional's Role

Combatting the perception of the company secretary as a barrier to decision-making involves demonstrating the value they bring as facilitators of compliance and strategic advisors. By engaging in proactive dialogue and presenting solutions that align with regulatory requirements and business objectives, governance professionals can shift the narrative from obstruction to empowerment.

Empowering Governance through Insightful Leadership

The critical role of company secretaries in navigating the complexities of modern governance with insight, integrity, and influence is pivotal in leading their organisations through turbulent times with grace and effectiveness.

By embracing the qualities of the secretary bird—vigilance, agility, and the ability to disarm danger— company secretaries can elevate their contribution to their organisations, ensuring a governance environment that is not only compliant but also conducive to strategic growth and success.

Take the time to incorporate these strategies into your governance practices for enhanced boardroom dynamics and risk management.

In a world where governance challenges are as diverse and unpredictable as ever, the insights provided by Sharon offer a roadmap for company secretaries to enhance their impact and value within their organisations.

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    Connect with Our Founder & CEO
    Sharon Constançon

    Board Evaluation Expert, Mentor & Advocate for Good Governance

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    Sharon Constançon

    Sharon’s deep understanding of Board behaviours, leadership and regulated industries supports her delivery of truly deep, insightful and practical board evaluations. Sharon is a mentor and coach to Chairmen and Directors and champion of the Company Secretary.

    Sharon has an MBA, is a Chartered Director and a Chartered Secretary. She shares her professional journey as a lecturer for the Qualifying Level Boardroom Dynamics course for the Chartered Governance Institute UK & Ireland. Sharon is on the Court and is Chairman of the Membership Committee of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (WCCSA) and is a member of the International Committee of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI).

    She is a contributor to the Risk Coalition and course leader for programmes and seminars run by the Corporate Governance Institute in Ireland.

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