CEO Anett Grant Posits "Sandwich Approach" as Effective Remedy for Connecting Generational Divides in the Boardroom
MINNEAPOLIS, Jan. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Can a lack of gray hair impact board presentations?
The new CEO of a large real estate investment company worries that it can.
He sought out coaching from Anett Grant, President of Executive Speaking, Inc., a global speaking coaching company headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, because he wanted help. "How do I deal with the challenge of helping my board transition from the last CEO – who was sixty years old, bigger, and had gray hair – to me, somebody who has a much more youthful appearance?"
While his concern was personal, the issue of age in the board room goes beyond cosmetics.
"The significant issue today is not gray hair, or black hair, but rather, the generational divide that is consistent in board rooms across the country today," says Grant.
According to the findings of The Spencer Stuart Board Index, the age of the average board member continues to increase steadily. On S&P 500 boards, the average age is 62.6 – up from 60.2 in 2001. Additionally, 38% of boards have an average age of 64 or older, which is more than double the percentage a decade ago.
"These generational divides are gaps which threaten to become chasms," says Grant, "and leaders must face the challenges of bridging these gaps head on."
One of the biggest challenges for leaders is presenting about the "new" – the new social media, the new technology, the new millennials, the new globalization. How do you keep the focus on the business case – versus getting sidetracked in the buzz of excitement, the barrage of analytics, and the trendlines of uncertainty? How do you keep board members up to speed with the new in this time of unprecedented urgency and escape velocity?
"The key to communicating today's exploding complexities is not about dumbing it down and minimizing, but rather about elevating and organizing," says Grant. "Before descending into the granular, leaders have to create hierarchies of information," – what Grant calls the Sandwich Approach. Board presenters must continuously transition from concept to details in bite-size pieces.
As Grant explains, some board members just want to know the concept – what kind of a sandwich is it? Then the next group wants to know about the details (the fillings). Then some want to know about the details of the details (condiments). Then some may even want to know about the details of the details of the details (the molecular structure of each ingredient).
By implementing the Sandwich Approach, leaders can keep their diverse board members engaged.
"The Sandwich Approach also helps board members feel smart," says Grant. "Champions of the new have to remember the goal of the board meeting is not to present an awesome display of the bright and shining, but a clear business case for decision making."
Anett D. Grant founded Executive Speaking, Inc., in 1979 and coaches executive speaking to leaders from around the globe from companies including General Electric Company, PepsiCo, Inc., Dell, Inc., General Mills, Inc., Bank of America Corporation, 3M Company, Ford Motor Company, Motorola, Inc., HP, Coca-Cola Company, SABIC, Verizon Communications, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., DHL Express, National Public Radio, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., MasterCard, Inc., Medtronic, Inc., BP, Ralph Lauren, UnitedHealth Group Inc., Nestle, HanesBrands, Inc., L3 Communications Holdings, Inc., Estee Lauder Companies, Inc., Sanofi, Symantec Corporation, Adobe Systems, Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Inc., and SABMiller.
For insights and strategies for speaking with authenticity and impact at critical board presentations, call Anett D. Grant, President, Executive Speaking, Inc. at 612-338-5748 or email Email.