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Secret Life of Boards Book Launch

We were delighted and proud to gather over 100 friends, family, clients and colleagues last week to celebrate the release of our partner Helen Hopper’s book, The Art and Psychology of Board Relationships: The Secret Life of Boards, which she has written with her co-author Joy Harcup.

It was a privilege to see Helen and Joy’s book out in the wild, and to hear them share its insights with warmth, passion and precision. We had more audience questions than we could field; and leaders from charity, public and private sectors continued to share their own boardroom stories until long after the last of the canapés and fizz.

Applying psychodynamic psychology, cognitive behavioural therapy and neuroscience lenses to data from in-depth conversations with leaders in over 40 boardrooms, Helen and Joy have identified seven ‘difficult relationship dynamics’ that prevent boards from delivering to their full potential. By applying their ART framework (Awareness-Relationship-Tactics) to each dynamic, Helen and Joy provide a path from diagnosis to resolution.

We're hearing that the Secret Life of Boards occupies a uniquely valuable space as a guide to boardroom relationships, and within leadership teams more broadly. It’s being well-received by board members and leaders, and also by their coaches, facilitators and advisors, many of whom are recommending that their boards read it in preparation for a shared discussion.

Helen and Joy set out to write a book with broad, insightful, real-world appeal. ‘That’s absolutely wonderful,’ says Helen. ‘That’s just what we had in mind. We wanted to create something practical and accessible, packed full of useful and interesting things’.

Meaningful, generative relationships underpin all our work at h³, and these are at the core of Helen and Joy's book. A board educator in our practitioner book group this week noted that, ‘you can have eight people with all the skills you want around the boardroom table; but if they can’t stand working with each other, you’ve got a dysfunctional board.’

Helen concurs; ‘I think there’s a general movement and recognition of the fact that boards aren’t just governance; part of a healthy board is relationships and how you work together as a team’. Joy summarises it with words shared with her by a CEO, ‘Building the relationship is the task’.

For anybody interested in board and leadership team dynamics, we’ll be sharing more insights from the research over the coming months. The book is available now (Helen and Joy’s favourite book store is ); we’d love to hear your thoughts on the book, and your own perspectives and experiences with boards and team dynamics.


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