By Dr. Martin M. Lwanga
Henry Babaano felt he had just scooped the best job in the world as Chief Executive of a national transportation company. A week after reporting to work he was asked by the Chairperson for a Board meeting to discuss his contract and other urgent assignments.
Sumptuous refreshments and buffet lunch were served as the Board meeting took the whole day. Because the issues were not finalized, another meeting was scheduled the following week. As was the company’s custom, each Board member picked up a six-digit figure allowance on the way out.
The next meeting did not resolve all the issues that the eleven-member Board wanted to tackle. Yet another meeting was called; soon meetings were happening every week and, at times, twice on a week. Far from concentrating on issues related to building the company with his team Henry was now constantly locked up in day-long Board meetings.
Topics were wide and ever unpredictable. At one time it could be a certain staff member’s job contract, an impending appointment, rumors of tribalism, some car-loan policy or where the Chief Executive spent his Friday and on and on. Some of these questions inevitably involved investigations and preparing suited answers, which now became Henry’s major work.
As a result, Henry found he had little time to develop the winning strategy he wished for the company. In fact, there was a lot of political intrigue he had to guard against. The habit here was people ever going behind his back and filing to the Board querying one thing or another, a cause for more meetings. Some of the meetings became very heated and testy as he had to fend off one accusation after another. “That is a pure lie!” once he shot back at a Board member, frustrated at an allegation of sexual impropriety.
Occasionally, Board members would also drop in his office and plead for favors. “I need to travel upcountry and can you help me with a driver and car.” Almost every day Henry would receive at his office a job applicant with a cheat from a Board member. “Can you fix my son somewhere?”
At the end of his six-month’ probation the new Chief Executive took stock of the politics of the company and concluded that there was not much impact he was going to make. “I spend most of the time arguing with the Board. When will I ever have time to build this company? And when I fail, it will be the same Board to fire me on grounds of non-performance.” He resigned.
- What is the problem with this Board?
- As a Consultant what solutions would you offer?
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