Understanding the value of your work and unique contribution as a share plans or governance professional is vital to developing your capability to influence and navigate a career in governance. When this question is posed to those that have invited me to facilitate a team away day, the initial response is ‘keep the Directors out of jail’. However, with enough reflection, insight most likely leads to an individual perspective of ‘Frankly if I wasn’t here, I dread to think about how many things would have fallen through the cracks — meetings would be chaos!’. It can be hard to substantiate our value to senior stakeholders who may hold dated perspectives on the role of the governance professional.
Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple, is often misquoted for the popular quote of ‘Do more of what you love and it won’t feel like work’. The full context is ‘Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.’
Love isn’t necessarily what comes to mind when we’re having to craft board minutes or arrange the corporate calendar for the next two years. The most important piece of this quote is about being satisfied around what you believe to be great work. What does it take to do great work in a governance sense?
Perhaps it can be as simple as making small changes to a lengthy or manual process, a launch of an SAYE scheme, the completion of the annual report & accounts, a smooth AGM or being able to change a stakeholder’s perspective from a ‘thorn in the side’ to being a strong advocate for governance in the organisation. Small wins can accumulate to great achievements!
Defining what success would look and feel like from the outset can help in pursuit of doing great work. Using this framework can help governance professionals to maintain positive energy, resilience and momentum with the day to day as well as planning for the next role or developing the governance team. From recent experience of facilitating team days, launching coaching journeys and effectiveness reviews, there’s a hunger by the governance community to do great work and celebrate it!
When I set up The CoSec Coach after more than 20 years of service as a Company Secretary for public companies, I realised I had lost part of me along my governance journey. This pivot to doing more of what I enjoy seemed like an experiment to start with. I believe that all governance professionals need to revisit their purpose and value from time to time. This process is transformative and valuable. For a varied, rewarding and fulfilling governance career, every once in a while, take stock, reflect and rediscover what it takes to do great work. Perhaps even review each day — am I proud of the work I’ve done today?
Laura Higgins, CoSec Coach