Better Boards Conference 2024

Better Boards Conference 2024 Master the Art of the Boardroom SYDNEY, 14 & 15 JUNE 2024


Shining a Light on the Dark Shadows of Board Culture

Dr Susan Mravlek

Principal, Board Benchmarking (in association with Insync)

Dr. Susan Mravlek's expertise is in deep qualitative research that enables a macro view of board processes to help identify existing and potential polarities. Her experience has primarily focused on boards and top teams across many sectors to improve behaviours and dynamics, and help restore organisational cohesion.

Susan holds a PhD degree in Business from the University of Tasmania and a Master of Applied Science degree in Organisational Dynamics from the RMIT University, Melbourne.

She has spent the last 10 years studying the impact of disruptive events on organisational culture and how maladaptive systems and social unrest affect organisational dynamics including performance and behaviours. Susan's main objective is to help boards and top teams accomplish their organisational aspirations.

Boards and directors are more frequently being weighed down by the pressures of meeting stakeholder expectations to be high-performing, overachieving, all-knowing and all-roundexperts that in most cases is unrealistic. Along with dealing with disruptive events, a poor economic outlook, uncertain markets and an ever-growing list of regulatory requirements add to the recipe for dysfunction within boards.

This presentation draws on cross-sectorial experiences and delves into some of the complex dynamics that shape board culture when imbued by tension, hidden hierarchies and power imbalances that are so often invisible.

Attendees will gain insights and experiences of the various environmental factors that impact a group and that may define a board culture and how these may compromise board processes. We delve into a real-world case scenario, unpacking the intricacies of board conflict, as well as examining the impact of reputational damage, ineffective communication, power struggles, and lack of accountability that impede decision-making processes, organisational progress, and erode stakeholder trust. More broadly, how this hinders the effectiveness of a board more generally.

This presentation aims to uncover signs of toxicity on boards that are not dissimilar to signs of toxicity in anyorganisation; in fact, the culture of the board filters down to the organisation. We examine some of the common root causes, manifestations and far-reaching consequences that maladaptive behaviour has on board functioning.

Attendees will gain insights to help boards and directors better understand the behavioural risks that possibly exist in their boards and learn strategies onhow to address these. More importantly, how to prevent an unhealthy board culture from emerging and to cultivate a positive board culture.

Ultimately, understanding and addressing dysfunctional board culture is crucial for fostering psychological safety, effective leadership,resilience and promoting sustained success.

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Conference Partners

HLB Mann Judd
Virtual Support Specialists
Integrite Insurance
Australian Ageing Agenda
Russell Kennedy Lawyers