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Board-CEO Relationship

Aurora Jackson: a Board-Savvy CEO at the Helm at Lane Transit District

June 2, 2017 0 Comments

      Aurora Jackson

Listening to Aurora Jackson (“A.J.”) describe how she’d gone about building a solid partnership with her new board at the Lane Transit District (Eugene, Oregon) in our podcast recording session a couple of weeks ago, I was struck by what a great mentor she’d make for new transit CEOs. It’s nothing short of amazing when you consider she’s been at the helm of LTD for only 18 months.  I recalled some CEOs from the recent past who’d gotten off on the wrong foot with their new boards and barely kept their jobs after a brutal couple of years.  … Read the rest

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Don’t Let Your Board Beat You To the Punch

April 14, 2017 0 Comments

A couple of years ago I got a call from the chief executive of a regional transit authority who wanted to discuss a situation that was causing him more than a little heartburn.  In a nutshell, his board’s executive committee had decided to hold a daylong “governance work session” at which board members would explore ways they might clarify the board’s governing role, fine-tune the board’s committee structure, and update processes for engaging board members in processes like strategic planning.  He told me that he thought it was a “great idea,” but that he’d been shocked when the committee moved … Read the rest

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Don’t Wait Until the 11th Hour To Do Succession Planning

March 7, 2017 0 Comments

         Doug Eadie

Many, perhaps most, transit board members and CEOs see succession planning as a negative process that boards get involved in when their relationship with their CEO is frayed or even totally broken.  But in my experience, developing a CEO succession plan isn’t just a very positive process, it’s also part of the imprint – the legacy – that that a really board-savvy transit CEO will want to leave in her authority.  CEO succession planning, which a recent report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City defines as “a structured process to ensure leadership continuity,” should deal with … Read the rest

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Make Sure Your Board Does a Really Good Job of Evaluating Your Performance

February 7, 2017 0 Comments

The really board-savvy transit CEOs I’ve worked with over the years make sure that their board regularly evaluates their performance, employing a well-designed process that is both thoughtful and substantive.  Why?  Because these CEOs well know that board evaluation of their performance is one of the most powerful tools for building and maintaining a solid board-CEO working relationship that can withstand the inevitable stresses and strains at the top of every transit authority.  So I’ll be spending several minutes discussing CEO evaluation during the “Hit the Ground Running With Your New Board” webinar I’ll be presenting later this month for … Read the rest

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CDTA’s David Stackrow and Carm Basile on the Board Chair-CEO Partnership

January 17, 2017 0 Comments

I talked with Dave Stackrow, long-tenured Chair of the Board of the Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, New York), a couple of days ago about providing transit board members with the information they need to build really solid partnerships with their CEOs.  We agreed that the indispensable foundation for board-CEO partnership building is a really close board chair-CEO working relationship.  While we were … Read the rest

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Surviving and Thriving With Your First Board: 3 Tips for CEO-Aspirants

December 16, 2016 0 Comments

I’ve lost count of the horror stories CEOs have told me in our one-on-one coaching sessions – about working with their first board after reaching the top spot.  To call working with the board during that first year an ordeal by fire would be an understatement for many, if not most, transportation CEOs.   This is really unfortunate since the board is without question the CEO’s preeminent stakeholder:  who holds the purse strings; whose backing for CEO initiatives is essential; whose opposition can seriously diminish the CEO’s credibility; and who, ultimately, can end the CEO’s tenure.

Why do transit executives all … Read the rest

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Don’t Fall Into the Policy Governance Trap

December 1, 2016 0 Comments

jumping spiderA year or so ago, I got a call from a transit CEO desperate for help.  The year before, he explained, his board had adopted a “policy governance manual,” spelling out the roles and responsibilities of the board and CEO and making clear the limits on both board and executive authority.  For example, the manual specified that the CEO could sign consulting services contracts up to a maximum of $25,000, above which board approval was required, that the CEO was responsible for preparing the annual operating plan and budget, while the board was responsible for reviewing and adopting the plan … Read the rest

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Boosting Your Board’s Self-Esteem

July 12, 2016 0 Comments

Sounds good to me!Hundreds of interviews with transportation board members over the years have taught me a valuable lesson.  Board members who take pride in their boards – and in their governing work – make more reliable partners for the CEO – the kind who’ll back you up when the you-know-what hits the proverbial fan, as it always eventually does.  And I’ve also learned that getting board members formally involved in managing their own governing performance is a sure-fire way to boost their self-esteem.

The December 2, 2015 post at this blog, “Strengthening Your Board’s Performance Management Is a Wise Investment,” tells how … Read the rest

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Not Much Glamour – But This Apparent Sow’s Ear Is Really a Silk Purse

July 6, 2016 0 Comments
         Doug Eadie

Doug Eadie

“That doesn’t really sound very CEO-like”  That was the initial reaction of a transit GM in our coaching session a couple of years ago when I suggested that he put on what I called the “Chief Governing Process Designer Hat.”  We were discussing an issue he’d identified in our session a couple of weeks earlier that he’d described as “terribly worrisome.” In a nutshell, although his relationship with the 11-member board seemed generally OK as far as he could tell – with no severe tension points or other obvious problems – he had a gut feel that most … Read the rest

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Another Insidious Foe To Watch Out For

June 3, 2016 0 Comments

jumping spider“But won’t I be inviting my board members into my business and leaving myself open to the kind of micro-management that can really disrupt my work?”  This is what I heard from the GM of a mid-size transportation authority during our recent discussion over lunch of the process her board might use to assess her work.  We’d agreed that a well-designed annual GM evaluation process was one of the most important vehicles for keeping her working relationship with the board healthy.  And we’d also agreed that an objective evaluation process should heavily focus on the authority’s overall performance in terms … Read the rest

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