Take care of the board amateurs

Chair an organisation where members or other stakeholders have a say in how it is run and a fresh set of challenges will come your way. Not least of these is that some of the non-executive or “lay” directors are elected or nominated, rather than being appointed through a conventional recruitment process.

“You can’t assume that the people you are working with have the same reference points in relation to understanding corporate governance, board processes and so on,” said Christopher Baker, chairman of Nisa, the alliance of convenience stores.

Read more about the challenges – and benefits – of working with non-elected Neds in The Sunday Times.

When you believe your own PR

Narcissism is like salt in soup: a pinch or two improves matters but add too much and the whole thing is ruined. Unfortunately for leaders, recognising the point at which their self-confidence swells into hubris — the belief that rules designed for mere mortals no longer apply to them — is more difficult than following a recipe. And when it happens, it has huge destructive potential for them and their organisations.

“It means that managers focus completely on themselves, while most of the time they are facing problems that cannot be solved by one individual,” said Bernd Vogel, director of the Centre for Engaging Leadership at Henley Business School. “This creates real performance issues, short and long term.”

Read more in The Sunday Times

The Times SME Hub: handling growth

This month The Times SME Hub looks at how entrepreneurs handle rapid growth, which can present challenges as well as benefits.

In Maternity wear business finds room to bloom, Geoff van Sonsbeeck of Isabella Oliver talks about some of the challenges of starting a business at home.

Morph Costumes’ Gregor Lawson and his co-founders caught the public imagination and expanded rapidly, only to find that this drew the attention of competitors.

Codegent calculated the value of its culture when making it on to a magazine’s “one to watch list” meant an influx of work and some quickfire hiring, says the agency‘s co-founder, Mark McDermott.

Alibi Health Drink‘s founder, Oliver Burton, deliberately took a slow-and-steady approach to growth to avoid expanding too fast and damaging the brand.

Fast-track growth isn’t always foolproof, design agency co-founder Peter Ballard explains; his business doubled in size following an acquisition but the integration took longer than he expected.

Weighing, packing and posting “irregular, sticky, squidgy” snacks is a challenge, but one that Graze is taking on in the US as well as the UK, says CEO Anthony Fletcher.

Freelance journalist and writer