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WeGo Public Transit’s Steve Bland:  A Consummate Board-Savvy CEO in Action

October 26, 2021 0 Comments

As you’ll learn from the video interview I recently recorded with Steve Bland, Chief Executive Officer of WeGo Public Transit in Nashville, Steve is a veritable master of the high-stakes, tremendously complex, and rapidly evolving field of public transit governance.  Over the course of his quarter-century at the helm of four transit authorities, Steve has demonstrated that he’s in the forefront of a growing number of transit CEOs who make governance – particularly the partnership with their board – a top tier chief executive priority.  These really “board-savvy” transit CEOs are firmly committed to strong board leadership that goes well … Read the rest

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3 Quick Fixes That Won’t Corral the Rogues on Your Board

July 1, 2021 0 Comments

“Rogue” board members are trouble makers who march to their own governing tune at their own tempo, with little concern about the impact on their board colleagues.  Their behavior can erode a board’s governing performance and poison a board’s culture, while in the process occasionally even tarnishing a transit authority’s image in the community.  The most effective approach to fencing your rogue board members in and preventing them from wreaking havoc is fully developing your board’s governing architecture.  In a nutshell, this involves such elements as a detailed description of your board’s governing responsibilities; a well-designed standing committee structure; strong … Read the rest

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An Error of Judgment I Won’t Repeat

June 23, 2021 0 Comments

A little over five years ago I made an error of judgment that taught me a couple of really valuable lessons.  I’d been retained by a Midwestern transit authority to assist in planning, facilitating, and following up on a daylong board “governance improvement work session.”  During my first meeting with the steering committee overseeing my work – the board chair, vice chair and two other board members – I advised my colleagues to include the CEO and his executive team members in our work session, explaining that this had become standard practice for a number of very sound reasons.  Based … Read the rest

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Joanna M. Pinkerton Leads a Panel Discussion on “Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership”

June 21, 2021 0 Comments

I’m pleased to share the new video interview that our colleague Joanna M. Pinkerton, President/CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), recently recorded for www.boardsavvytransitceo.com.  Joanna leads a panel discussion on my and Dave Stackrow’s new book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership: A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants. The panelists are Jeff Arndt, President and CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority (San Antonio); Steve Bland, CEO of Nashville MTA; and Nat Ford, CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. After I describe the book’s intended audience and takeaways, and explain why Dave and I wrote the … 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 1, 2021 0 Comments

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 the great majority of vacant CEO positions have been filled with executives who have worked their way up the operational ladder in one or more transit authorities.  This operational bias is easily understandable.  Even small to medium-sized transit authorities are incredibly complex organizations – both operationally and technically – and it’s only natural to want an executive in the top spot who can keep the buses and trains … Read the rest

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Your Board Chair:  a Primo Stakeholder You Neglect at Your Peril

May 20, 2021 0 Comments

The special board work session had been scheduled to consider a key recommendation coming out of the daylong board-CEO-executive team governance retreat three  weeks earlier: replacing the board’s dysfunctional silo committees (e.g.,  paratransit services) with committees aligned with the board’s broad governing functions (e.g., strategic and operational planning).  Not long into the session, the CEO realized that her preparation had been  fatally flawed.  When five particularly obstreperous board members launched a full-bore attack on the recommended structure, the CEO expected the board chair to join her in beating back the attack.  Alas, he sat back quietly, leaving her alone at … Read the rest

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Your CEO Mindset is Key to Successfully Partnering With Your Board

May 10, 2021 0 Comments

A staple of my one-on-one governance coaching sessions with transit CEOs in recent years has been the critical role that I call “Mindset” plays in building and maintaining a close, positive, productive and enduring board-CEO partnership.  What am I talking about?  In a nutshell, Mindset is how you, as your authority’s chief executive officer, picture yourself vis a vis your transit board.  Experience has taught me that if you bring the wrong mindset to the relationship with your board, it probably won’t matter what other partnership building steps you take (for example, reaching agreement with board members on guidelines for … Read the rest

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The Urgent Need for Practical Governance Guidance:  CEO Success Depends on It!

May 5, 2021 0 Comments

A recent executive team work session I facilitated included at least four executives who appeared to be on the chief executive career track – who were what we call “CEO-aspirants.”  The subject of our work session was the role of executives and senior managers in supporting the authority’s governance process, with special attention to the role of executives who’d been assigned  to serve as “Chief Staff Liaisons” to the board’s standing committees.  Several of the questions I was asked during our six hours together only reinforced what I’d already learned in countless similar sessions over the years:  Transit CEO-aspirants and … Read the rest

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Solving the Board Development Puzzle:  the How

April 14, 2021 0 Comments

Our readers might recall that the March 25 post at this blog dealt with two pieces of the board development puzzle:  WHAT does board development mean?  WHY is it critical that the CEO spearhead board development, wearing the Board Developer-in-Chief hat?  The post points out that your transit board – like any other formal organization – can be consciously and systematically developed into an organization more capable of carrying out its mission:  to govern your authority.  Of course, board development is an ongoing function because the field of transit governance is continuously evolving.  Another important point the post makes is … Read the rest

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Solving the Board Development Puzzle: the What and the Why  

March 25, 2021 0 Comments

The half-day Zoom governance workshop I presented a couple of weeks ago for 25-some CEOs of a diverse array of transit authorities included a segment on board development.  Early in my career I would  have been a trifle worried that the topic might be ho-hum for some of the more seasoned  CEOs, but I soon learned I needn’t have been concerned.   Since much of the terrain we covered in the workshop turned  out to be refreshingly new to the great majority of my participants,  I think readers of this blog will be interested  in the key points  that came up … Read the rest

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