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Master Course on ‘Managing Difficult Conversations on the Board’


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Disagreements in the boardroom are unavoidable. Especially when the board has independent-minded, skilled and outspoken directors, each contributing expertise and talent that is relevant for the future of the company. A board that never argues or disagrees is most likely an ineffective board that is neither fulfilling its oversight function nor carrying out its duty of care. Yet if boardroom disagreements are not dealt with properly, they can escalate quickly into public matters that can have severe, long term consequences for the company and its stakeholders.

Most of today’s directors belong to a league that was not tutored in communication skills or the ability to handle interpersonal relationships with caution and with empathy. This is one of the most important competencies required to successfully negotiate work and life. Not a single objective can be accomplished in the boardroom without the active and enthusiastic co-operation of every director.

The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) in its efforts to contribute to the professional advancement of directors and in promoting practices that are beneficial to directors and their organisations, is conducting a Master Course on ‘Managing Difficult Conversations on the Board’ targeting directors and potential board members. This is a highly interactive course that focuses on building interpersonal dispute resolution skills for board directors. It is designed to help directors understand board conflict and conflict styles and it covers difficult scenarios that directors often encounter, strengthening the board’s deliberations, decision-making, board evaluation discussions and overall performance.

This practical workshop is being conducted by SLID together with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) corporate governance group, that provide corporate governance advisory services to individual companies and firms and offers targeted client services in areas such as increasing board effectiveness, improving the control environment and family business governance.

The course is designed by Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR), which is Europe’s largest independent alternative dispute resolution service and the leading negotiation and conflict management trainer, internationally acclaimed for its mediator skills training. It also consults globally on civil justice reform and helps businesses develop conflict management systems. 

Some of the session topics include: 

nUnderstanding board conflicts

nConflict styles, dealing with conflict avoidance

nFramework for having a difficult conversation

nHow to start a conversation well

nFinding out what is really going on/exploration

nManaging emotions

nStrategies for breaking through to an agreement

nManaging coalitions, methods of influencing

Through case analysis and interactive learning exercises, participants will practice the leadership skills required to manage disputes and difficult conversations on the board. Selected participants will have a unique opportunity to receive confidential one-on-one consultation with a professional experienced mediator.

The program will be held on the 8th and 9th February at the Galle Face Hotel Colombo.

Two foreign experts from these organisations will be flying down to deliver the two-day training.

Susanne Schuler joined CEDR as Assistant Director of Training in 2013. As part of her role, she contributes a combination of strategic input, team leadership and training delivery across the entire range of CEDR training and consultancy services, with primary focus on CEDR’s Mediator Skills training program. 

Susanne is an experienced business and intercultural trainer, conflict mediator and coach. Her legal studies, business experience and her work in diversity combine effectively in her mediation role. Susanne’s work covers community mediation as well as corporate and commercial mediation.

She has trained over 1,000 delegates from more than 30 different nationalities in mediation, conflict management, negotiation techniques, diversity and inclusion. She has also facilitated more than 100 mediation and conflict management cases (mainly organisational, intercultural and community conflicts) and successfully helped her customers to resolve their conflicts in a constructive way. 

Alexey Volynets is a corporate governance officer in the Environment, Social and Governance Department of IFC (International Finance Corporation) which is part of the World Bank Group. He works at the IFC corporate governance program’s global headquarters in Washington, D.C. and specializes in design and delivery of capacity-building products and programs. 

Specifically, he oversees the thematic programs managing corporate governance disputes, governance of small and medium enterprises and corporate governance media program (training journalists to properly understand and cover corporate governance issues). In this capacity, he coordinates development of training programs, materials and publications and works closely with IFC regional corporate governance programs to guide their local rollout and adaptation. 

Alexey has a degree in electromechanical engineering from Saint-Petersburg Mining University (Russia) and a degree in media management from the University of Missouri-Columbia (United States). He also received training and coaching as an adult trainer from the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution in London, United Kingdom.

This is the second time that this program is being organized in Sri Lanka based on the request we received from our members. To participate at this program, please contact SLID on 0112301646/8 or email iod@slid.lk.


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