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Author Archive: Doug Eadie

Doug Eadie, president & CEO of Doug Eadie & Company, Inc. (www.dougeadie.com) helps clients build high-impact board-CEO partnerships.

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Foothill Transit’s Doran Barnes:  Energizer-in-Chief Extraordinaire

May 4, 2020 0 Comments

Our readers will recall that the March 31 post at this blog, “Crises Demand Energizers-in-Chief at All Levels” (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/crises-demand-energizers-in-chief-at-all-levels/), describes chief executives who wear the Energizer-in-Chief hat in tackling the twin challenges of education and inspiration during crises such as Covid 19.  “On the one hand,” the March 31 post explains, “people naturally hunger for explanation and explication.  They crave understanding: of the forces at work in the crisis, and of the extent of the danger they are in.  On the other, they crave hope – that resolute, capable leadership will bring the ordeal to an end.”

You’ll … Read the rest

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The Board-Savvy CEO: De Facto Captain of the Strategic Governing Team

April 14, 2020 0 Comments

Governing is a team sport if there ever was one.  I’ve never in my 30-plus years of working with public and nonprofit organizations come across a public transit board that has successfully – on its own – transformed itself into a really high-impact governing body, much less managed to carry out its governing responsibilities in a full and timely fashion, without strong executive assistance.  High-impact governing is always, in my experience, the product of the board, its CEO, and the senior executives working closely together as a cohesive “Strategic Governing Team.”  Of course, we expect the CEO to provide our … Read the rest

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Energizer-in-Chief Redux:  Stakeholder Relationship Management

April 8, 2020 0 Comments

“Incredible.  We must be talking about 40 or more stakeholders.”  This was one of the responses to the question I asked in the daylong governance work session I was facilitating, after the  breakout group dealing with stakeholder relations had completed its report in plenary session.  The group had made a list of critical stakeholders  – defined as external organizations with which it made sense for the transit authority to maintain a relationship because something important was at stake – and then identified strengths and weaknesses in each of what appeared to be the ten highest-stakes relationships.  The question I had … Read the rest

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Crises Demand Energizers-in-Chief at All Levels

March 31, 2020 0 Comments

“The fog of despair hung over the land.  One out of every four American workers lacked a job.  Factories that had once darkened the skies with smoke stood ghostly and silent, like extinct volcanoes.  In October the New York City Health Department had reported that over one-fifth of the pupils in public schools were suffering from malnutrition. . . .Hunger marchers, pinched and bitter, were parading cold streets in New York and Chicago. . . .”  This is Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.’s description of America in 1933, in his magisterial The Crisis of the Old Order:  a nation in … Read the rest

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Don’t Count on Even Superb Performance Always Cutting it!

March 20, 2020 0 Comments

When I walked in Rich’s office for our weekly project review meeting, I found him slumped at his desk looking distraught.  When I asked him what’d happened, he just said “take a look,” handing me a form.  It was the annual performance evaluation his board had performed a couple of days ago.  Scanning the document, I couldn’t fathom his distress since his scores were uniformly high – in fact, superb.  That is, until I reached the bottom and saw the conclusion, which said in so many words, “You do a great job, but we find working with you impossible.”  He Read the rest

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CEO Evaluation: a Potentially Powerful Relationship Adhesive

March 9, 2020 0 Comments

At a daylong “High-Impact Governing Work Session” last fall, the board, executive director/CEO and executive team of Access Services in Los Angeles County spent around 1 ½ hours  discussing practical ways to cement the executive director’s working relationship with his board.  One of the relationship building tools the group closely examined was board evaluation of the executive director’s performance.  But they didn’t mean one of those highly subjective and essentially meaningless questionnaires that board members often individually fill out in the privacy of their own offices.

These questionnaires miss the point by having board members assess their CEO’s functional excellence … Read the rest

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The Engine Powering Your Transit Authority’s Governing Machine

January 21, 2020 0 Comments

Over the years I’ve often heard transit boards described as “policy-making bodies,” which doesn’t begin to convey the complexity of governing work.  It makes more sense to think about your authority’s board as a kind of governing machine that continuously produces governing decisions about such governing “products” as your authority’s updated values and vision statements, the new strategic plan, and next year’s operating plan and budget.  Your governing machine also produces a steady stream of governing judgments answering the classic governing question, “How are we doing? – on the basis of such information as your authority’s monthly or quarterly operational … Read the rest

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HART’s Ben Limmer: Career Planner Extraordinaire

December 13, 2019 0 Comments

The following post originally appeared at this blog in July 2019.  In light of the tremendous positive  response to the post, including the podcast I recorded with Ben, we’re running it again for our blog followers as a holiday treat.  Happy Holidays!  Doug Eadie

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 … Read the rest

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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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