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Board Capacity Building

Peers Presenting to Peers: a Powerful Change Tool

June 23, 2017 0 Comments

It definitely wasn’t your traditional reporting-back session on June 6 in Cleveland. Board President George Dixon and Trustees Valarie McCall and Georgine Welo of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority were seated at a table facing other GCRTA Trustees, CEO Joseph Calabrese, and his top executives.  A couple of months earlier, GCRTA Trustees had spent a day in … Read the rest

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Taking a Holistic Approach to Strengthening Your Board’s Culture

January 3, 2017 4 Comments

“Nothing’s really changed, and that’s terribly disappointing.”  This is what the CEO told me in a recent coaching session about the results of a daylong board-CEO “team building” retreat that’d been held around three months earlier.  The session had been scheduled, the CEO explained, in response to the perception of a majority of board members and the CEO that the board’s culture had become increasingly dysfunctional, characterized by uncivil debate in public board meetings, including some board members actually challenging their colleagues’ motives, and by board members snipping at the CEO and members of her executive team, etc.

This CEO … Read the rest

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Learning – and Owning – By Doing: the MTA and STARS Experience

November 2, 2016 0 Comments
Ed Benning

         Ed Benning

Ed Benning has bitten off a major chief executive leadership chunk:  not only serving as full-time General Manager/CEO of the Mass Transportation Authority (MTA) in Flint, Michigan, but also currently providing interim CEO leadership at STARS in nearby Saginaw.  Recognizing that both his boards would benefit from an opportunity to update their governing knowledge and skills, Ed and his two board chairs invited the two authorities’ board members and executive managers to participate in a half-day “high-impact governing work session.”  And being a really board-savvy CEO, Ed made sure his two board chairs were involved in putting together … Read the rest

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Make Sure Your Board Has Its Own Governing Mission

August 11, 2016 0 Comments

Diverse People in Meeting With Speech Bubbles“Does your board have a detailed governing mission?”  My question was greeted by some quizzical looks in a recent “board-savvy CEO” workshop I was conducting for chief executives and CEO-aspirants.  One participant pointed out that her transportation authority regularly updated its mission – with active board involvement – and asked if that was what I was talking about.  My response:   “No, I mean your board’s unique governing mission, not your authority’s overall mission.”  I went on to explain that the board, like every other major organizational unit in your authority, needs its own mission describing what it’s responsible for.

I … Read the rest

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Another Insidious Foe To Avoid: Believing Board Committees Invite Micro-management.

June 17, 2016 0 Comments

 

jumping spiderOne of the erroneous governance assumptions that I described in the radio interview I did for the Michigan Business Network a few days ago is the notion that board standing committees are an invitation for transportation board members to dabble in executive and administrative matters – what is popularly known as “micro-management.”  You’ll recall from a couple of my recent posts at this blog that an erroneous assumption about an aspect of the public transportation governing business earns the designation “Insidious Foe” when two things are true.  First, the assumption is dangerous.  Taking it seriously and acting on it … Read the rest

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“What makes women such effective board members?”

March 2, 2016 0 Comments
Karen Philbrick

Karen Philbrick

“What makes women such effective board members?” That question came up over a glass of wine at the Women’s Transportation Seminar (WTS) reception held at the Transportation Research Board conference this past January. Apparently, boards comprised of men and women have a superior track record compared to those run entirely by men. Several recent studies have come to this conclusion, including a 2012 Credit Suisse study of 2,360 organizations over a six-year span. It maintained that companies with women on their boards “delivered higher average returns on equity.” Why would this be?

We wondered about this while enjoying … Read the rest

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Strengthening Your Board’s Performance Management Is a Wise Investment

December 2, 2015 1 Comment
Alex Clifford Santa Cruz METRO

Alex Clifford
Santa Cruz METRO

In early October CEO Alex Clifford and his Board at Santa Cruz Metro spent a half day together discussing developments in the rapidly changing field of public transportation governance and brainstorming practical ways to transform an already good board into an even higher-impact governing body. One of the six breakout groups that generated content during the session (three groups meeting concurrently in each of two rounds) brainstormed targets and standards that Board members should hold themselves accountable for meeting, for example: attending Board meetings; being well-prepared for meetings; actively engaging in discussion. Their plan is … Read the rest

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There’s a Right Way to Involve Your Board in Governance Self-Assessment

September 30, 2015 0 Comments

Diverse People in Meeting With Speech Bubbles

Our previous post, “Don’t Get Caught in the Board Self-Assessment Trap,” tells the true story of a GM who’d been talked into having his board members fill in a questionnaire assessing their governing performance. He’d been told by a local nonprofit resource center that this was the “indispensable” first step in launching an initiative to strengthen the board’s governing capacity. To the GM’s dismay, the input he received from the self-assessment process turned out to be virtually useless in the capacity building effort. The reason was simple: the questionnaire input largely consisted of highly subjective opinions that weren’t based on … Read the rest

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Don’t Get Caught In the Board Self-Assessment Trap

September 1, 2015 4 Comments

iStock_000020585606Large I received an email promo last week from a national nonprofit ballyhooing its board self-assessment “tool,” which reminded me of a true story that goes back around four years. The GM of a large urban transportation authority called me to get my feedback on a dilemma he found himself in. He’d retained one of those local nonprofit leadership centers that have sprung up around the country in recent years to help design and carry out a board capacity building initiative that he saw as badly needed. He’d sought help, he said, because he’d grown increasingly worried about the pretty obvious … Read the rest

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Bringing New Board Member On Board – The Right Way

August 25, 2015 2 Comments

The GM, along with his top five executives, made sure the two incoming board iStock_000020585606Largemembers, neither of whom had been involved with public transportation issues, got a thorough briefing on the authority during the two-hour orientation session in the GM’s office.   They learned about the authority’s services, organizational structure, revenue streams, expenditure budget, and long-range capital plan, among other things, referring frequently to the handsome notebook staff had put together. There was plenty of time to ask questions over the box lunch following the staff presentation, after which the chief operating officer took the incoming board members on a tour Read the rest

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