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Board Capacity Building

Developing Your Board’s Governing Capacity Isn’t a Piece of Cake

August 21, 2018 0 Comments

The last two articles posted at this blog have taken a look at the transit CEO’s “Chief Board Developer” role, which Dave Stackrow, APTA Vice Chair, and I will be examining in detail in the book we are co-authoring, Becoming Your Board’s Chief Governing Partner: a Practical Guidebook for Transit CEOs and CEO-Aspirants. Dave and I are keenly aware that there are some formidable – but by no means insurmountable – barriers you’re likely to encounter in helping your board build its governing capacity. We’ll be paying special attention to three of the more important roadblocks in our book, … Read the rest

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The CEO as Chief Board Developer: Part 2

August 16, 2018 0 Comments

The August 6 post at this blog makes the case for transit chief executives to play what I call the “Chief Board Developer” role, building the board’s capacity to do the really high-impact governing that turns board members into satisfied owners of their governing work.  As I observe in that post, your long-term success as CEO heavily depends on strong leadership from board members who own their governing role.  Two of the most powerful approaches for building your board’s governing capacity while also generating the kind of board ownership that fuels commitment to implementing the capacity building recommendations, are the … Read the rest

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The CEO as Chief Board Developer: Part 1

August 6, 2018 0 Comments

Since strong, creative board leadership is one of the preeminent keys to your transit authority’s long-term success in this changing, challenging world, board capacity building must be one of your top three CEO leadership priorities. Any CEO (and I hear this every now and then) who sits back bemoaning the board’s lackluster leadership without taking affirmative action to help the board become a higher-impact governing body is guilty of dereliction of duty – and of being less than a full-fledged CEO.

In my experience, as your authority’s CEO, you must be not just an active participant in – but also … Read the rest

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Turning Your Board Into a Cohesive Governing Team: Part 2

July 17, 2018 0 Comments

As I noted in last week’s post at this blog, turning transit boards into really cohesive governing teams is no piece of cake, primarily because the great majority of transit board members are appointed by elected officials.  In practice this means that many if not most transit board members feel as – if not more – accountable to their appointing authorities than to their board colleagues.  Now matter how stiff the challenge, however, board-savvy transit CEOs know that they’ve got no choice but to help their boards become more effective governing teams for two main reasons.  First, teamwork is one … Read the rest

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Turning Your Board Into a Cohesive Governing Team: Part 1

July 10, 2018 0 Comments

Teamwork in the abstract is neither here nor there for public transit boards. The only serious reason for developing your board’s teamwork is to help it function as a more effective governing body that gets its governing work done more effectively and efficiently. The acid test of an effective team is its productivity in accomplishing its assigned tasks. Productive teams are also generally characterized by a high level of cooperation and coordination in getting their work done, harmonious relations among team members, the absence of debilitating conflicts, and the capacity to withstand considerable stress and strain without falling apart. You … Read the rest

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Board-Savvy CEOs Avoid Falling Into the Board Self-Assessment Trap

March 7, 2018 0 Comments

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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Peers Presenting to Peers: a Powerful Change Tool

June 23, 2017 1 Comment

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 a retreat setting, familiarizing themselves with developments in the rapidly changing field of public transit governance, identifying governance issues, and exploring possible steps to strengthen the Board’s governing capacity.  The facilitator of the earlier retreat had prepared a follow-up action report, which … 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 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 the detailed … 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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