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Beware of the Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome

December 2, 2019 0 Comments

“You’re pretty obviously over your head and can’t really understand what we’re doing.  Instead of getting people riled up, why don’t you get yourself up to speed and join the team?”  This is what I was told in so many words several years ago – early in my public management career – when I had questioned the progress that a consulting team reported it was making in upgrading the financial management system of a large public transportation agency.  Reflecting on that experience years later, I think what was at work was a modern version of that classic cautionary tale, “The … Read the rest

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Leading Innovators-in-Chief: Disney’s Robert Iger and DART’s Gary Thomas

November 11, 2019 0 Comments

“What can I do to get my board meaningfully engaged in leading innovation and change in my authority?” I hear variations of this very important question quite often from transit chief executives in my one-on-one governance coaching sessions and educational workshops. There’s no simple answer, but the indispensable first step is to make sure you understand what’s going on in the rapidly evolving field of change planning and management. One thing for sure: traditional comprehensive, long-range “strategic” planning – for arbitrary periods like three or five years – is a blunt innovation tool. Experience has no doubt taught many if … Read the rest

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Ownership: the Fuel that Powers Significant Board Change

October 10, 2019 0 Comments

Let’s begin with a sad and all-too-familiar true tale of woe that a transit general manager recounted to me in one of our early coaching sessions. A few months earlier, he and the governance consultant he’d retained to analyze his board’s structure joined all board members in a special two-hour work session to consider a recommended new committee structure to replace the administratively-focused, narrow “silo” committees that the GM and consultant agreed were leading to rampant board micro-management. Standing at the front of the conference room, the GM and his consultant began the PowerPoint presentation describing the functions of the … Read the rest

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L A County’s Access Services’ Strategic Governing Team Explores Enriching Board Composition

September 27, 2019 0 Comments

Last week, I was privileged to facilitate a daylong “High-Impact Governing  Work Session” involving the Board of Directors, chaired by Dolores Nason, the Executive Director, Andre Colaiace, and the Executive Team of Access Services, which provides paratransit services in Los Angeles County.  One of the major topics we addressed during our day together was developing the Board’s self-management capacity.  The board self-management function, as most of our readers no doubt know, consists of two key elements:  developing the people on your board; and managing your board’s governing performance.  One of the six breakout groups we employed over the course of Read the rest

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Denver RTD’s CEO David Genova Talks About “Reimagine RTD”

September 5, 2019 0 Comments

Whenever I’m contacted by an executive team member asking if I’d be interested in providing assistance to some kind of strategic planning process the transit authority is launching, I always respond the same: I won’t know until I’ve spent an hour or two talking with the authority’s chief executive officer. And when the CEO and I do talk, I’m really interested in hearing her describe in detail the specific outcomes she wants the process to produce and how far out of the “box” of current operations the CEO is willing to have the process go. And I’m also very interested … Read the rest

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Getting Your New Board Committees Off on the Right Foot

August 23, 2019 0 Comments

Whether newly created board standing committees find their sea legs early in their existence and are soon firmly established depends heavily on two factors: the board chair’s appointment of the right board members to chair the new committees; and the CEO’s designation of an executive team member to serve as Chief Staff Liaison to each committee.

Once the new committees have effectively functioned for a year, the appointment of committee chairs is a more routine matter, but choosing the right first chairs for the new committees will be critical to their success as your board’s “governing engines.” Experience has taught … Read the rest

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Benjamin Limmer Takes the Helm at HART in Tampa

July 17, 2019 0 Comments

In the informative and fascinating podcast Ben Limmer, new Chief Executive Officer at the Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (HART), recorded for this blog last week he describes the professional path he traveled on the way to the top spot at HART.  Ben also explains how he determined that his transit experience and executive leadership skills were a good fit with the demands of the CEO position and the Board’s expectations at HART.  The result is a model that transit CEO-aspirants and CEOs considering a new position can draw on in advancing their careers.

Listening to Ben as we recorded … Read the rest

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David Stackrow: Transit Volunteer Extraordinaire

July 3, 2019 0 Comments

By virtue of his or her highly visible and influential position as “CEO” of the board, a chair can . . .play a leading role in educating board colleagues on advances in the field of transit governance and building their appetite for board capacity building;  champion the cause of board development, cooperating with the CEO in leading the process of updating the board’s governing role, structure, and processes; help to facilitate board-CEO interaction, fostering mutual understanding; and support the CEO’s executive leadership initiatives both internally and in the wider community.

This excerpt from Chapter Three of my and David Stackrow’s … Read the rest

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The Late Senator John McCain and True Humility

July 1, 2019 0 Comments

It seems appropriate, as we approach another Fourth of July celebration to re-post this article that originally appeared almost a year ago.  It’s about a true military hero, stalwart patriot, and man of sterling character, the late Senator John McCain, who possessed a trait characteristic of great leaders – true humility.  I’m sorry to say that it appears to be in ever shorter supply in these times of rampant, bombastic self-promotion.  Doug Eadie

Thinking about Senator John McCain this morning – along with millions of my fellow Americans and admirers around the world – reminded me of the critical role … Read the rest

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Board Chair Trudy Bartley and President/CEO Joanna Pinkerton on Breaking the Traditional CEO Mold at COTA

June 27, 2019 0 Comments

This article and the accompanying podcast featuring Trudy Bartley, Chair of the COTA Board of Trustees, and Joanna Pinkerton, COTA President/CEO, was originally published in 2018.  Since CEO leadership and structuring the CEO function are really hot topics among public transit leaders and this post and podcast have attracted tremendous attention, it seemed appropriate to bring them to the attention of our readers a year later.  Doug Eadie

Traditionally, at the top of the list of qualifications public transit boards specify when recruiting candidates for the CEO position is in-depth operational experience.  So it’s no surprise that over the years … Read the rest

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