Balancing Power: Managing Demands from Influential People

Sections of this topic

    Can you advise Stuart?

    Stuart is a well-respected professional company director who has developed a prominent profile in his industry. He is president of the industry association and has recently been appointed to chair the board of a government-owned organisation that is a highly important part of the industry ecosystem.

    He has been pleasantly surprised by the diligence and contribution of his directors and the professional expertise of the CEO and management team. He also loves being able to contribute to the strategic development of the industry even though the Chairmanship pays less than his other industrial roles as an NED.

    The Minister clearly appreciates his expertise and has taken to asking Stuart to speak at functions that the Minister either cannot attend or is not confident to address. He also drops by the office for coffee and advice as well as invites Stuart to attend a lot of official functions and conferences. He has also planned an overseas study trip which Stuart is concerned will take him away from his other boards (and this one) for a length of time that will be harmful to the companies.

    The workload is spinning out of control and Stuart, who usually sees himself as highly organized and capable, is starting to feel that he isn’t coping and that something is going to be missed. He has tried turning down the requests from the Minister’s office citing workload and pre-existing commitments but these polite refusals are rejected and he is told that he ‘must’ attend as part of his role.

    Stuart is happy that his expertise is recognized but can’t spread himself this thin. He doesn’t want to resign any of his board seats as the workload should be easily manageable were it not for the constant time demands from his Minister.

    How should Stuart handle this issue?


    Many readers of this blog will be familiar with my newsletter The Director’s Dilemma. This newsletter features a real-life case study with expert responses containing advice for the protagonist. Many readers of this blog are practicing experts and have valuable advice to offer so, again, we are posting an unpublished case study and inviting YOU to respond.

    If you would like to publish your advice on this topic in a global company directors’ newsletter please respond to the dilemma above with approximately 250 words of advice for Peter. Back issues of the newsletter are available at where you can check out the format and quality.

    The newsletters will be compiled into a book. If your advice relates to a legal jurisdiction, the readers will be sophisticated enough to extract the underlying principles and seek detailed legal advice in their own jurisdiction. The first volume of newsletters is published and available at

    What would you advise?

    Julie Garland-McLellan has been internationally acclaimed as a leading expert on board governance. See her website or visit her author page at