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The Fenton Method


It’s something of a fashion these days to talk about emotional intelligence (EI/EQ) and its importance to business leadership.


But how many business leaders understand how to harness it to change their organisation?


For more than 15 years, as a consultant, I have helped individuals and boards work through personality issues - everyone has them - which prevent collective success.


Before that, I was a divisional director and board member at several large and small companies. I have hands-on experience of the pressures business leaders face every day. I also did a wide range of personal development programmes.


That insight into what makes businesses and board members tick means that I  can quickly identify issues that are holding a company and its leaders back. Then, I can help reveal the purpose, strategy and behaviour that are needed to achieve the required changes.



The Fenton Method


  • The way to improve board effectiveness is to improve board relationships.

  • You do this by recognising that each board member’s psychological needs are unique.

  • Their behaviour is often unconscious and, once brought into their awareness, can be addressed.


With my help, boards have recognised not just where they can improve but how to make the most of individual directors' under-exploited strengths, competencies and passions.


By setting small behavioural change targets, collectively and individually, boards can achieve surprisingly big performance improvements.


This is how and why it works:


  • Extensive research over the last 50 years indicates that people’s behaviour in groups is largely determined by the way they reacted to formative experiences earlier in life.

  • We all have formative experiences: even the lack of conflict in a happy childhood is a formative experience.

  • The child adopts behaviour to handle the experience. That behaviour becomes a set part of how they handle adult life. 


I have developed a Model - The Fenton Model® - which is a set of processes and tools that make this research relevant to board effectiveness in three ways:


  1. Board members driven by behaviour that isn't optimal for co-operation can spoil group effectiveness and hold the company back

  2. Their behaviour can cause them personal frustration which stops them performing at their full potential and contributing as much as they might 

  3. Since personal and organisational objectives are inter-dependent, whether you like it or not, it must make sense to pay attention to both and not just one



The Process


Step 1: Establish the Personal purpose, strategy and behaviour plan (Personal PSB Plan) of each board member



Step 2: Agree a shared PSB Plan for the business. This will have all the usual business plan headings but each of these will be linked to behaviour issues which might affect those headings


Step 3: Agree behavioural gaps agree to make small changes in behaviour to bridge them 


  • For the micro-manager, that might mean reducing the amount of checking up on others by 10%

  • The "passive aggressive" could decide to confront people directly ten times more often

  • The pleaser might say "No!" ten times more frequently 


These are modest, achievable goals.


Because everyone agrees with each other the small changes they will each make, and holds each other to account, the changes happen. And they have a big impact on board effectiveness. Here’s why.


Genuine collaboration, improved decision-making, better management and leadership – any one of these can have a big impact on a business. So changing the thing holding each board member back a little can work wonders.


Your business purpose is better served and that enhances your organisation not only in terms of short-term performance but also in developing its long-term capability.



Ciaran’s mix of strategic consulting and behavioural change has helped boards deal with big changes like these. By aligning the personal and the professional, new and existing board members have a connection and a shared purpose.


That ensures everyone collaborates in a way that drives the company forward and gets the most out of the abilities of its leaders.




The Results/Benefits


  • Become a more emotionally intelligent individual

  • Collectively, be a more emotionally intelligent board

  • Better board relationships lead to better decisions and better outcomes 


Small changes across the board can transform your organisation:


  • more unity brings more effectiveness

  • ultimately makes you a more fulfilled and better-performing person

  • that helps organisation achieves its goals


On an individual level, board members will be more fulfilled, focussed and productive because of e.g:


  • The micromanager has more time

  • The director who could never acknowledge a mistake will work faster and more productively 

  • The pleaser will discover new-found personal conviction and confidence

  • The person who needs to be the smartest in the room will genuinely collaborate with others

  • The pleaser will slow down and show how brilliant they are at doing one thing at a time

  • The Imposter syndrome sufferer will trust their judgement

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