Have you ever asked yourself this question? For me it is a little bit like trying to assess my own authority at home. I might like to think that I am ‘the boss’ but sometimes I question how many of my actions are initiated and/or governed by others rather than myself? For example, does my wife manage me or am I managing her? Who is the real boss in our house?

Of course homes usually only have two contending bosses, in business there can be several. For this reason, many academics have invented catchy terms to define the difference between real power and perceived power.

As a young business man in the 1980’s it seemed to me that most businesses were actually being run by their finance directors, rather than their CEOs. Finance departments appeared to dictate not only upon budgetary allocation but also on rather low level expenditure requests. In the UK finance directors were encouraged to focus on the short term in order to deliver share value at the end of the year, rather than at the end of the decade.

But who are the dominant players of our boardrooms today? And how do they obtain their position of power and influence? Who, for example in your business is really calling the shots – or is there a perfect balance between the competing departments?

Over the last thirty years I have been lucky enough to work with a handful of senior managers that have managed to convince their peers into giving them the backing they needed to implement major innovative change projects. I have seen IT directors deliver increased revenues and business leaders redefine their processes in order to save vast sums of wasted time and money. But the battle for innovation, for new and clear thinking in the board room remains.

To celebrate all this and to promote the public debate further, On October the 15th. in Brussels, The Making a Difference team are putting together an interactive event on the subject, lead by two highly successful business leaders and followed by a walking dinner, the event promises to be both challenging and fun. (see Who’s running this business?).

A few tickets are available at 120EUR each but I have two free tickets to give away for the best answer to the following question: ‘Who in the boardroom should be responsible for innovation and ensuring profitable growth?’.

Life is short, and our mission sometimes unclear, but the battle for influence and power remains for many. If somehow we can create some fun along the way then who we are and earning a living have both depth and meaning.

Have a good week,