The PeopleCap Playbook

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10 Takeaways from the 2018 NACD Summit


transforming growth summit

The National Association of Corporate Directors held its annual Summit in DC this week. The largest gathering of public, private, and nonprofit governing board members never disappoints. FBI Director Christopher Wray, Ariel Capital’s John Rogers, SEC Commissioner Robert Jackson, innovation expert Amy Wilkinson, and NPR’s Guy Raz were just a few of the speakers who covered topics ranging from corporate culture, cyber security, bioinformatics, human trafficking, global warming, #MeToo, and our current climate of polarization. Here are my top 10 takeaways:

  • From FBI Director Christopher Wray: China wants our trade secrets. It’s no longer about if or when your organization will be the victim of a cyber attack, but how often. Governance efforts have tended to focus on prevention, but need to equally focus on detection and mitigation.
  • Board’s must increase their oversight of corporate culture. One way to do this is to establish and track non-financial goals around key cultural drivers like safety, diversity and employee engagement. These metrics will be key indicators as to whether or not your culture is functioning well.
  • It’s no longer Employee Wellness, but Employee Wellbeing that counts. Wellbeing includes physical, emotional, and financial health for employees. We must protect our workforce and intellectual capital by making Employee Wellbeing a priority at the board level. Mental illness is the silent Tsunami in the workplace. Stress, anxiety, and depression are at record levels.
  • When it comes to innovation, set a goal for failure. Accept that failure will be part of your process, but limit the time and resources you spend to learn from it.
  • A great way to deliver developmental feedback? “Steve, I know your intent was X, but your outcome was Y. Let’s discuss.”
  • CEO’s are not set up to recruit their successors – they are more likely to look for talent that complements them. Don’t just rely on the CEO’s assessment of her team. It’s critical to bring in a third party to objectively assess talent and advise the board on succession. (PeopleCap can help!) Also, experts recommend developing a pipeline of 2-3 generations of talent for each key leadership role. A good risk management practice: be sure to have a board member who can – in a crisis – act as interim CEO.
  • In the era of #MeToo how does a company move forward after a CEO is dismissed for sexual misconduct? We must acknowledge that an organizational culture existed to allow the behavior to occur in the first place and that culture will persist after the CEO exits. Experts recommend conducting a cultural assessment to understand how to exorcise the culture. (PeopleCap can help!)
  • Want to ensure your org is “anti-fragile?” Increase your diversity!
  • From Libby Sartain, former head of HR for Yahoo & Southwest Airlines: Why is it that people over 50 are valued in the board room, but not in the workforce? With a record number of generations in the workforce today, ageism may be the last form of socially acceptable discrimination. What can we do to accommodate older workers? Offer flexibility and tech support.
  • We are living in a post-truth world. What’s contributing to that? Social media creates low barriers to entry for people to publish “news” making it difficult for us to determine credibility. We suffer from confirmation bias. 80% of news is punditry, not facts. People prioritize authenticity over expertise – they’d rather vote for someone they’d like to have a beer with verses a qualified candidate. How can leaders combat this? Present facts without bias or editorial.