My journey Lyne Black of the Northern Ireland Policing Board
Lyne Black, engagement manager for the Northern Ireland Policing Board, recently attended the IoD's Role of the Director and the Board course in Northern Ireland. Having been inspired by strong female leaders throughout her career, Lyne was seeking CPD that would stand her in good stead to follow in their footsteps.
I currently work for the Northern Ireland Policing Board, a Non-Departmental Government Body (NDGB). Before taking up my role with the board, I was project manager within the 2013 World Police and Fire Games (WPFG) and had the responsibility of recruiting, selecting, training, managing and recognising the largest ever formal volunteer programme ever undertaken in Northern Ireland; delivering a mere 3,600 Games Time volunteers! Following this, I undertook an interchange opportunity within OFMDFM (the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister, now The Executive Office) working on the Together: Building a United Community (T:BUC) strategy.
These most recent positions, in additional to my previous posts, have in different ways, given me new experiences, opportunities, challenges and prospects.
I am a natural team player and relish a collaborative approach to achieving success. Within the WPFG this was imperative to achievement. I had a small team of eight fabulous individuals who gave everything in order to deliver a challenging and highly pressured programme. I like to think I played an influential role in their journey through that extremely intense period of work, by providing the leadership they needed in order to support, guide, encourage and importantly empower them.
Within all my posts I thrive on troubleshooting and have had the chance to demonstrate, and refine this, on many occasions. While I do not want things to go wrong, I do have the ability to think fast, apply a logical approach to determine a solution and work congenially with people to achieve a successful outcome; whilst effectively communicating throughout the process.
I have had the good fortune throughout my career of benefiting from guidance and support from excellent line managers and leaders, including Ken Nixon, Denise Hayward and Wendy Osborne OBE. Within my interchange post this good fortune continued in the form of an inspirational female leader; Linsey Farrell. She showed me, through her lead by example approach, how I wish to conduct myself; both professionally and personally. Linsey is knowledgeable, inspirational, motivational, trustworthy and transparent in her manner of leading others. She succeeded in continually demonstrating decisiveness, integrity, transparency and approachability.
While I’ve only been in my current post for 10 months, I can already see I am getting the same skills and attributes reinforced through my existing line manager and the board’s chief executive.
What I learned from the Role of the Director and the Board course
The fact that all participants struggled to clearly articulate the definition of corporate governance in the first instance! I came away with an understanding of it in its broadest sense in relation to systems, processes and rules by which an organisation is directed and controlled.
The ability to improve board effectiveness by simply making some minor tweaks to procedures, or applying best practice, or harnessing an existing policy; and consequently making a major positive impact.
The importance that should be placed on evaluating risk and the business perspective that risk, when managed effectively, can often be seen as an opportunity. I fully believe in this and think it supports innovation within a person and organisation.
My favourite takeaways
The opportunity to learn from others, contribute to constructive dialogue and discuss factual case studies and scenarios in order to hypothetically, yet realistically, apply our learning and come to an agreed (sometimes not fully!) solution.
The expertise of our trainer, Janhavi Dadarkar, was paramount to the success of the course. She threw in some curve balls in order to challenge our thinking and on occasion, played devil’s advocate, getting us to really consider all the options available. In turn she welcomed challenge herself and there wasn’t one occasion that I felt she did not give us a clear, accurate and relevant steer or answer.
The proactive reinforcement, by the trainer and participants across both days, in relation to the importance of skill-set boards; in particular regarding financial acumen. This strengthened my belief that an effective board should be made up of individuals who hold a variety of skills, experience and knowledge which they are keen to utilise and build upon, in order to achieve the collective objectives of the board they sit on.
Putting this into practice
Without an established executive, the policing board is not fully constituted at present. However, work is currently being undertaken in preparation for when it will be. Our chief executive has proactively set up a re-constitution working group and while we are only a few meetings in, I am already applying the learning from the IoD training whereby I can effectively contribute to discussions and accept responsibility to deliver on allocated actions.
This also applies to other areas of my work, including my thinking on our recently developed engagement strategy for the policing board and the implementation of actions which directly involve board members’ support and championing.
The IoD course highlighted to me that corporate governance is not limited to board members or senior management – perceived formal leadership roles – but rather these roles plus others. Within the policing board, our chief executive set up the Corporate Management Group (CMG) which enables those who may play a vital leadership role in the organisation to embed governance practices into the regular activities of their work and present an encouraging environment in which governance affairs can be raised and enhancements floated. I look forward to continuing to adopt this approach in my manner of working.
In terms of both professional and personal development, it has given me the opportunity to gain confidence in challenging myself; making a conscious effort to read and listen to more about corporate governance, directors, legal and financial responsibilities in everyday life, apply best practice to things I do and push myself outside my comfort zone for thinking and applying the learning to ordinary scenarios. I hope to continue this practical learning path as my career progresses and develops.
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