Bust Ups in the Boardroom – You’re Fired – No, I Resign!

Boardroom Bust UpsImage Courtesy: Rudall30

Boardroom Bust Ups
Image Courtesy: Rudall30

The UK papers on Sunday carried stories of an expletive laden ‘bust up’ at a YouView board meeting between two high profile business leaders: Lord Alan Sugar and Richard Desmond. The row culminated with Sugar resigning as Chairman and Desmond jeering at him in a reportedly “taunting” manor as Sugar advanced with clenched fists.

The YouView project was supposed to enable other media operators to catch up with the success of iPlayer, but was two years late. Sugar had been appointed to provide the leadership required to get diverse stakeholders that included the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and telecoms businesses BT and TalkTalk, to move in the same direction. In this, he clearly succeeded as the product is now launched.

The bust up occurred in front of senior representatives from these stakeholder organisations and up to 100 office staff that were able to watch the fracas unfold in the glass-walled boardroom. Observers described board meetings as a clash of egos and the denouement was evidently emotionally charged.

Both Sugar and Desmond have made substantial personal fortunes from their business activities (£800 mill & £1 bill respectively) and have clearly ‘led’ their organisations to commercial success. The question for the rest of us is, do they provide role models to whom we should aspire?

Tricky! Who would advocate the use of expletive laden language, aggressive posturing, taunts, and the threat of physical violence? Not I for one. However, what it demonstrates is that there is no single model for success, and we each have to find the approach that suits us best and enables us to achieve our objectives. If it means fewer people want to work for us, that’s our choice.

This emphasises an incredibly important question for anyone who takes his or her leadership position seriously:

  • What is your personal model of leadership?
  • How do you want others to experience you as a leader?

The starting point is perhaps to look at others – and then maybe decide what you don’t want to be.


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