Developing Directors / Building an Effective Boardroom Team


How effective is the board of your organisation? What do recent developments in corporate governance mean for the board? How could it add more value?

Could candidates for boardroom roles be better developed?

Are the policies and programmes initiated by your organisation’s board being effectively and quickly implemented? Is there a more cost-effective way of simultaneously delivering multiple board and corporate objectives?

Learn how to build an effective board composed of competent directors that will provide your organisation with the strategic direction it needs to succeed and satisfy stakeholder requirements.

Course Overview:

A new approach to director development, governance and board leadership is required. Hitherto corporate governance has been much concerned with board structures and the formulation of codes of practice. Yet such measures cannot prevent directors from taking poor decisions, attempting to cover their tracks and not always acting in the best interests of a company. Current corporate governance has not prevented a succession of failures and scandals and massive Government intervention.

Corporate direction has involved command and control systems and top-down leadership with its emphasis upon directing, leading, motivating and monitoring. Directors and boards have formulated strategies and produced annual or multi-year plans. Much effort has been devoted to restructuring organisations and multiple corporate initiatives to address various challenges. Some boards seek to change corporate cultures. Others engage in talent wars or jump on management bandwagons.

The competence of directors and the effectiveness of boards can be improved. In an era of uncertainty and insecurity directors and boards need to be better prepared and developed. Obstacles to improvement need to be addressed and more cost-effective approaches that quickly and simultaneously deliver multiple objectives adopted. Corporate performance depends upon the behaviours of directors and boards – what they actually do. They need to be prepared for ‘new leadership’ which embraces helping and supporting those in key roles, and puts more emphasis upon implementing strategy, integrating learning and working and quicker adaptation.

The course will draw upon Colin Coulson-Thomas’ books ‘Developing Directors, a handbook for building an effective boardroom team’ and ‘Winning Companies; Winning People’, his recent articles and reports on ‘new leadership’ and building high performance organisations, and his experience of working with over 100 boards to improve director, board and corporate performance.


To enable participants to understand:

• The challenges faced by directors and boards, and how they should be addressed
• The distinction between direction and management, and how to create more competent directors and more effective boards
• How directors are and should be prepared for the boardroom
• Typical obstacles to director contribution and board effectiveness and how they can be overcome
• The differing conduct of successful and unsuccessful boards and how to develop a winning boardroom team
• The implications of ‘New Leadership’ for directors and boards

Key questions to be addressed:

How does direction differ from management?

What are the main obstacles to director and board performance and how might they be overcome?

How might the competence of directors and the effectiveness of boards be improved?

What are the best ways of preparing people for board appointments?

How does one build an effective boardroom team?

Is there a more cost-effective way of providing strategic leadership and better corporate governance?

Who should attend?

Board chairmen, members of the main board and where appropriate key members of the senior management team and/or those with directorial ambitions and prospects. HR directors and Vice Presidents, Senior Talent Management professionals, those with director development responsibilities in the corporate, public or voluntary sectors, and those concerned with improved governance. In addition to company directors, the course will also benefit those holding a variety of public body and voluntary sector appointments, senior partners of professional firms and those serving on subsidiary company boards.


As a minimum the core boardroom team should attend courses designed for particular corporate boards. The maximum will depend upon the number of people for whom the programme is relevant. The approach adopted for public and other courses will reflect the number of attendees and the nature of their interests and needs.


The course will cover the following topics:

• Challenge faced by boards
• Role and function of the board
• Legal duties and responsibilities of directors
• Corporate governance
• Distinction between direction and management
• Type, size and composition of boards
• The competent director (qualities, knowledge and competencies required)
• The effective board (including common obstacles to effectiveness)
• The approaches of successful or winning boards
• Board best practice
• Direction setting and monitoring processes
• Selection and appointment of directors
• Developing directors
• Building the boardroom team
• Evaluating performance
• The board and corporate transformation
• ‘New Leadership’ and implementing corporate policies
• Directorial conduct: comparative behaviour of winning and losing boards
• Next steps (including understanding where you are)


Participants will understand – or, in the case of experienced directors, build upon their awareness of – what it takes for directors to become and remain effective, both individually and collectively. In particular, they will understand:
• The challenges faced by directors and boards, and how they should be addressed
• The distinction between direction and management, and how to create more competent directors and more effective boards
• Typical obstacles to director development, director contribution and board effectiveness and how they can be overcome
• The differing conduct of successful and unsuccessful boards and how to develop an effective and successful boardroom team
• How to implement corporate strategies and more-cost effective ways of improving performance and simultaneously delivering multiple corporate objectives.

Course Leader:

Prof. Colin Coulson-Thomas PhD, a member of the core ELMS Global team and author of Developing Directors, a handbook for building an effective boardroom team is an experienced chairman of award winning companies and an international adviser on director, board and business development; change, talent and knowledge management; learning; and transforming performance. An experienced process vision holder of major transformation programmes he was the world’s first Professor of Corporate Transformation and has been a Professor of Direction and Leadership. He has helped over 100 organizations to improve director, board and corporate performance; reviewed the processes and practices for winning business of over 100 companies; and spoken at over 300 conferences and congresses in over 40 countries.

In addition to Developing Directors, Colin’s 40 books and reports include Talent Management 2, Transforming Knowledge Management, Transforming Public Services, and Winning Companies; Winning People. Colin has held professorial appointments in Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, India and China, and a variety of private, professional and voluntary sector board roles, including as chairman and president. He has also held public board appointments at national and local level, and is a part-time member of the business school team at the University of Greenwich and an Adjunct Visiting Professor at Manipal University.

A member of ACCA’s Governance, Risk and Performance Global Forum and a Fellow of seven chartered bodies, Colin was educated at the LSE, London Business School, UNISA and the Universities of Aston, Chicago and Southern California. He obtained first place prizes in the final examinations of three professions. His latest publications can be obtained from