What Makes an Effective Chairman of the Board?

I was chatting recently with Dermot Hill of Intramezzo who posed this question. Given my experience as a Chairman and my love of this role, it set me thinking. Note that I’m going to use the word “Chairman” in a non-gender specific context in this article.

Companies appoint a Chairman for a variety of reasons. If they are about to float, or are seeking external investment, they may pick someone who is acceptable to the “money men” and who has contacts in that arena rather than going for someone who can add real value to the companies proposition. But I suspect Continue reading

About Philip

image of Philip de Lisle seated

“My name is Philip de Lisle and I’m a professional mentor and facilitator to and for company directors and senior management.”

No, I’m not in therapy. I’ve deliberately chosen to make this page more “human” than the rest of this website. Hence the use of the first person everywhere on this page.

What Have I Done?

A former serial entrepreneur, I’ve built and directed many companies over the last 35 years. I’ve founded more than 11 companies worldwide, in various industries such as the motor trade, advertising and PR, software development/IT and telecoms.

I’ve been non-executive Chair of several companies (including VC and private equity backed ones), and the former Chair of a small charity working with children. These have given me the understanding and acumen to work with the diverse opinions, cultures and focus that comes from working with a Board of Directors.

All this has provided me plenty with of experience, and I’ve got a lot of scar tissue from the mistakes that I’ve made! I’ve got a proven track record of

  • Formulating and implementing strategy
  • Delivering growth
  • Risk management
  • Compliance
  • Identifying new markets
  • Increasing sales and profitability
  • Focusing on potential problems and creating suitable solutions
  • Improving efficiency and looking for economies of scale

I now use these to help companies grow, which often leads to a profitable exit for their owners.

What Do I Do?

So how did I find myself, though my current company Enhancing Clarity Ltd, mentoring CEOs, board level directors and senior managers both in the UK and abroad?

After I exited my last business, I joined a number of networks wondering what to do next – I was too young at that stage to retire. Through these networks people asked me to share my knowledge of strategy, planning, company management (i.e. compliance, risk management etc.) to help them improve their performance, their team’s and that of their companies. I suppose you could say that this role found me.

So what do I actually do you may ask? I don’t really “do” anything. I’m not a consultant so don’t expect me to write a report for you or come up with a sales strategy – that’s your job (or one of your team’s) because it’s your company not mine. I’ll help you figure it out by asking probing questions and challenging your thinking. According so several clients I give them “head space” to really think about what they want for themselves and their company.

I’m incredibly lucky because I love what I do. I get a real buzz when clients have that “ah ha” or “lightbulb” moment. Sometimes this isn’t what I expected and that’s when I learn something. I still can’t quite believe that I get paid to do this!

What Drives Me?

I am passionate about building teams and helping people to succeed. I want to inspire people to perform. As a mentor, I believe that my role is to challenge and to help people discover solutions for themselves. It is not to tell them what to do. For me leadership is about ideas and strategy, and discovering and nurturing other leaders – it is not about command. And I hate seeing talent wasted.

I am particularly interested making boards and teams work effectively. To do this I use mentoring and careful listening to understand the “fit” of the individuals in the team, often using a tool called Core Process.

Other Stuff I Do

I regularly speak and lecture internationally on several “How To’s”:

  • How to buy companies
  • How to invest in companies
  • How to exit companies
  • How to implement change so that it succeeds

I also deliver leadership programmes and strategy planning workshops.

I’ve written several articles for the IoD Herts magazine and contributed the chapter on Mentoring for Growth in the 9th Edition (2007) of “The Growing Business Handbook” published by Kogan Page.

Finally I’m an accredited legal expert in IT Fraud with Crown Court experience. I have worked for the defence against the likes of the DTI, SFO and FBI.

Media Showcase

To get a flavour of who am I and what I can do for you, I’m including some links to videos and podcasts that I have either participated in or been referenced by others.

  • Get Ready for Investment
    In this webinar Rob Goddard of EvolutionCBS interviews me about how to get ready for external investment.

  • Mentorship for Creative Agencies
    This podcast is a discussion between the two owners of one of my smallest ever clients discussing how they found me and how I had helped them. It is included here with permission.
  • Beermat Radio Interview
    In this edition of Beermat Radio I’m interviewed by Mike Southon, co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur, about by career and mentoring. It is included here with permission.

And Finally…

One of the things I’ve come to realise is that people are increasingly afraid to think. We glibly use phrases like “thinking outside the box” in planning and strategy meetings without actually trying to do just that. For me, thinking is a skill which has to be practised. I want to help people rediscover that skill, and if they are receptive, to teach them to think differently so that problems actually become fun and easy to overcome.

I’m confident that I have the expertise, experience and focus to help you and your company identify your path forward into an exciting future. Big words I know, but what a journey …