Agenda Item One: Be a Woody not a Buzz

What really goes on in a boardroom? By drawing on the real-life experiences of social purpose leaders, our Agenda Item One series aims to challenge the conventional thinking and outdated governance practices seen all too often in today’s boardrooms

Can chairs on social enterprise and charity boards hinder rather than encourage productive board meeting discussions?

In the latest episode of Agenda Item One, Practical Governance co-founder Bob Thust is joined by two social leaders with a multitude of board level experience – Liam Black, Executive Chairman at Big White Wall, and Lesley Dixon, Chief Executive at PSS UK – to discuss.

While they have had many positive experiences, all have witnessed chairs making some common mistakes during board meetings – including not fully understanding an organisation’s mission, and spending time dissecting minor details in a charity or social enterprise report rather than looking at the big picture.


Lesley Dixon, Chief Executive, PSS UK

Least helpful of all, they agree, is the type of chair who believes they understand an organisation better than its CEO or management team. “A nightmare chair is someone who thinks he’s the smartest person in the room, and dominates board meetings. Someone who may have been around longer than the CEO so thinks they totally understand the organisation's purpose..."

A nightmare chair is someone who thinks they're the smartest person in the room

So how can a chair ensure they are doing their best to lead productive board meetings? 

Listen above to hear their advice – including tips on how a chair and CEO can build a successful working relationship, and their thoughts on why a chair should be more like Woody: the toy cowboy protagonist of Pixar movie Toy Story, than Buzz Lightyear, his space ranger superhero sidekick.


If you enjoyed that one, you can listen to the first episode of Agenda Item One here.