Defying odds of potential boardroom coups

There is always power behind the power, but it is something that a lot of people have misread historically which has led to their exit orchestrated via boardroom coups.

Emmanuel Zvada

When one is ambushed, usually, they are taken for surprise, as they sit in their high seat, which then becomes too big for them on that particular day.

A boardroom coup is a sudden and often unanticipated takeover or transfer of power of an organisation or company.

The coup is usually performed by an individual or a small group on the same side usually within the corporation in order to seize power to one board of director.

A boardroom coup draws upon the notions of a coup d’état in the same way that a corrupt, dysfunctional or unpopular group is pushed out of power unwillingly.

Most corporate directors approach their board responsibilities seriously and with good intentions.

But, however, directors can and do create problems, especially when they are under-performers.

Whether through inattention or ill intent, they can detract from board effectiveness and disrupt the balance of interests, ego, and power, thus affecting the organisation completely.

Sometimes how directors critique other board members can signal issues within themselves.

One director may come down hard on a particular colleague to such an extent that you can notice that there is something wrong.

Whatever the circumstances, board members face some difficulties, especially in a situation where there are divergent views within the board.

Taking action to deal with a weak link or problem director is confrontational. To some extent, what they can do only is a coup.

This normally happens when issues in the board become politicised and spin out of control.

Only a few have survived boardroom coups and they have defied these odds by applying tactics that added a new lifetime to their position.

The below are the tips and tactics that can be used to for you to survive a boardroom coup:

Pocket allies

As it stands, in any situation when there is war, one must have allies.

This method is crucial because no person or entity goes into war alone without having the unyielding support of an ally or allies.

Pocket allies in boards exist for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out among them.

Whatever position you hold, you hold it together with allies as you fight the common enemy having a stronger hand.
When you have allies, it’s very difficult for a boardroom coup to take place because you will have known it prior to it taking place and counter-act to your advantage.

Spin-doctor your fate

Nothing beats the power to turn around events, especially when one is facing odds that lead to their demise.

Spin doctors are magicians indeed and they are masters of re-framing a narrative with a careful, yet massaged language so as to shift the focus of those around him/her.

They widen perspectives, re-evaluate and re-apply value and meaning to different aspects of the story they tell to such an extent that those planning a coup will see no reason to do so.

Whenever other colleagues plan to ambush or sweep you into the dust bin, you must be able to change your fate and use it to your advantage.

Good governance practices

Whenever unconstitutional methods are being unleashed, you must be able to present yourself with good governance, as you recite the corporate governance code to your colleagues in your defence.

Let the guidelines of your company guide and protect you to survive an unprecedented ousting.

Being transparent is the other weapon one can use against a boardroom coup.

Nothing beats a glass filled with water, everyone can see through it and so if you present yourself as a glass filled with clean water, nobody will attack you at a board proceeding because you already display transparency.

Give power and share power

One’s success in becoming a master of avoiding boardroom coups is to ensure that all members feel as much as powerful as you are in a team.

Allocating or sharing power, even if it is a smoke screen, avoids uprisings, and creates adoration and respect for your contributions.

The more power you share, the more the members will become active.

Yes, you will have less control, but on the contrary, you will spread control for participation and involvement.

If you are someone who takes power sharing at heart, you should be willing to let members have responsibility for governing the direction of company and coming up with opinions and ideas which they feel they are crucial.

More so, you should talk through potential issues before a meeting to avoid nasty surprises

Power is all about gathering intelligence and one must always be having the upper hand to understand and know the potential problems that may arise in a board room.

So, you must counter it all, by defying the odds before they occur.

Win through actions and not arguments

It is much more powerful to get others to agree with you through your actions, without saying a word.

Choose your battles wisely, especially when arguments arise. Sometimes it is best to conserve your energy and walk away when an argument heats up.

Nevertheless, the best strategy will be to agree and suggest an alternative during arguments.

Board members must always understand and the challenges that they normally face put in place corrective measures before it’s too late.

Boardroom coup survival requires a dosage of action in winning than argumentative winning.

What is encouraged is a board culture that is constructive and allows for effective discussions, debates, and deliberations
Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant/international recruitment expert and author. He writes in his own capacity.