Dealing with Damn Difficult Directors


“What distinguishes exemplary boards isn’t structural. It social. They have robust, effective social systems with a virtuous cycle of respect, trust and candor”


– J. Sonnenfeld - HBR

Brief summary

This topic always fills the room at a conference.  A united, dedicated board and management team, reading off the same page, can achieve extraordinary outcomes. Unfortunately that’s not always the reality. What to do when problematic individuals around the table consistently sabotage unity and pursue divisive agendas?


The clash of ‘egos’ and poor communication capability around the boardroom table can result in dysfunctional interpersonal dynamics that seriously stress everyone and restrict the realisation of the organisations mission. Even one director, or executive, unfit for purpose, negatively engaged, or out of step, is both a success inhibitor and an unacceptable loss of potential and contributing talent.


This presentation will include case studies, Difficult Director profiles, tested strategies to modify unacceptable behaviour and challenging group dynamics and pathways to realign the team members with each and purpose.


Key ideas covered

  • Difficult people, profiles and case studies

  • The biology of conflict

  • The role of behavioural profiling

  • Self Awareness, the highest barometer of Emotional Intelligence

  • The key role ‘values’ play in disunity and disruptive behaviour

  • Mindfulness, consciousness, conflict and calm

Key objectives - the participants will get



  • Understand why people can push your buttons and trigger reactivity.

  • Emotional Literacy - strategies for reading emotions

  • People Literacy – strategies for reading people

  • Respond strategically, rather than react emotionally, in all challenging interpersonal engagements.

  • Master the most effective negotiation strategy to get both colleagues at work and family at home reading off your page.

  • Survive VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environments by encouraging substantive “disruptive” thinking and minimising emotive “dysfunctional” thinking.

  • Excel in Collaboration not Conflict

  • Upgrade your EQ where the rubber hits the road – your ability to manage emotions in self and others.



Book a call from Robert

I first met Robert whilst attending an employer sponsored training course in Conflict Resolution. Having been in the business of managing large numbers of diverse people for over 20 years my willingness to attend the course was tinged with scepticism. Robert immediately grabbed my attention by the manner in which he identified with the individuals in the room, tailoring the program to meet their needs. It was impossible (even for a world-weary cynic like myself) not to become caught up in his enthusiasm for the subject matter and his boundless energy. 


In a market saturated with ‘conflict consultants’ I have no hesitation to recommend  his professional skills. Experienced and incisive, he is peerless in his field.

John Alexander

Senior Project Manager

 (Formerly Captain HMAS Westralia)

  • Robert Gordon LinkedIn profile page