Global convention appeal to business leaders and business schools for greater focus

Investigation findings suggest a new approach to leadership and governance is required

Many business leaders and business schools are focussed upon generalisations rather than critical success factors for sustainable business growth according to Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas. Speaking in London at the 13th International Conference on Corporate Governance and Sustainability the author of Developing Directors called for a new approach to governance and leadership.

The professor asked delegates how many internet stars and rapid growth company entrepreneurs they had encountered who ascribed their stellar success to their governance structures. According to his recent investigations: “Whether or not boards add value to the growth and development of a company depends upon board behaviours rather than corporate structures. A new approach to leadership and corporate governance is required.”

For Coulson-Thomas, “ Old governance is about structures, planning, head offices and top-down motivation. New governance is about behaviours, implementation and front-line performance support. The emphasis should be switched from directing and motivating people to helping and supporting them. Non-executive directors used to help executive directors rather than check up on them like private investigators. They looked outwards for opportunities rather than inwards for abuses. ”

In the 20 years since which have elapsed since the professor’s 1993 book Creating Excellence in the Boardroom and the first edition of Developing Directors, and in over 30 investigations, he has endeavoured to identify what the most successful directors and boards do differently in areas that are vital for corporate performance and success. He believes the focus should be upon building an effective board of competent directors.

Coulson-Thomas told conference delegates that expensive, time-consuming, multiple and disruptive corporate initiatives should be abandoned in favour of simpler and more affordable approaches set out in Transforming Knowledge Management, Talent Management 2 and Transforming Public Services, the latest reports to be based upon his investigations. He believes “the right performance support can simultaneously deliver multiple objectives and benefit companies, stakeholders and the planet. It can enable ordinary or average people to remain current, cope with change and excel at difficult jobs – and especially activities that impact upon the customer and differentiate.”

The focus of business schools may also need to change. The professor cited the topics being followed by his fellow academics on where 18,382 were following Leadership, 6,630 were following governance, and 6,302 were following corporate governance while in comparison only 151 were following pricing, just 53 were following purchasing and just one was following performance support which can enable the delivery of multiple corporate objectives.

Coulson-Thomas suggested that: “Social media is often a distraction. When properly used it can become a key component of performance support. New leadership is about engaging, sharing and providing better support. Smart use of social networking allows effective responses to new opportunities and challenges to be rolled out across a global corporation and its business and channel partners within two or three hours.”

The professor believes boards should contribute greater focus: “They should avoid wasting time producing elaborate corporate plans, restructure organisations, trying to change cultures, or being excellent at everything. Instead, they should focus upon providing better support to key work-groups and customers to enable them to remain relevant, current and vital and lead more rewarding, healthier and sustainable lives. Users of simple, effective and affordable ways of helping customers to help themselves soon identify areas and corporate activities that are no longer required.”

Developing Directors, a handbook for building an effective boardroom team, by Prof. Coulson-Thomas and his recent reports Transforming Knowledge Management, Talent Management 2 and Transforming Public Services on the results of his investigations into a quicker and more affordable route to high performance organisations and achieving multiple corporate objectives, and setting out his views on new leadership and governance can be obtained from

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas, author of Transforming Knowledge Management, Transforming Public Services, Talent Management 2, Winning Companies; Winning People and Developing Directors, and an experienced corporate director, audit chair and board chairman, has been the vision holder of successful transformation programmes and has held public sector board appointments at national and local level. He has helped over 100 boards to improve board and corporate performance and leads the OLJ International Governance Initiative. His academic roles are at the University of Greenwich and as an adjunct visiting professor at Manipal University. He can be contacted by email: [email protected] and via

The London Global Convention 2013 incorporating the13th International Conference on Corporate Governance and Sustainability and the presentation of Golden Peacock Awards took place at the Hotel The Tower.


04 Oct 2013
Colin Coulson-Thomas