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Board-CEO Relationship

Turning Board Evaluation of the CEO Into a More Powerful Relationship Building Tool

May 11, 2018 0 Comments

       Doug Eadie

“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 … Read the rest

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Don’t Forget Your Board Chair’s Paycheck

April 19, 2018 0 Comments

         Doug Eadie

I’ll never forget walking into a transit authority’s board room several years ago. I found the board chair – a highly influential attorney – fuming. When I asked what was wrong, he handed me a clipping from the community affairs section of the local paper, saying “read this and you’ll see.” The piece was a glowing review of the authority’s new agreement with the local community college system – providing frequent, convenient bus service to students. I couldn’t see what the problem was until I got near the end of the piece, when I read a long quote … Read the rest

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Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Caught in the “Policy Governance” Trap

April 10, 2018 0 Comments

         Doug Eadie

A 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 … Read the rest

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5 Facts of Life in the Rapidly Evolving “Field” of Public Transit Governance

January 26, 2018 0 Comments

Doug Eadie

Actually, governance – the leadership work of governing boards in close collaboration with their chief executive officers – isn’t yet a full-fledged field. It’s getting there, but still can’t claim the set of universally accepted core principles and thoroughly tested best practices that you expect a fully developed field to have.  Instead, principles and practices are heatedly debated, and oodles of really dangerous advice – what I think of as “insidious foes” – can damage board performance and erode the board-CEO working relationship.  I call these dangerous bits of advice “insidious” because they can sound quite plausible – … Read the rest

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David Stackrow, Master of the Governing Game, on the Board Chair-CEO Partnership

January 10, 2018 0 Comments

David Stackrow

I’m delighted that David Stackrow was able to carve out an hour earlier this week for us to record a podcast focusing on the board chair-CEO working relationship.  Dave’s one of the busiest public/nonprofit leaders I’ve worked with over the past quarter-century.  Managing Partner of Scott Stackrow Co., P.C., a thriving financial services firm, Dave not only chairs the Board of Directors of the Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA; Albany, NY), but also serves as Vice Chair of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), a new role requiring  extensive travel.

No leader I can think of is more … Read the rest

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Time to Update and Fine-Tune Your CEO Leadership Resolutions

December 21, 2017 0 Comments

         Doug Eadie

There’s wide agreement in the public transit sector that one of the preeminent vehicles for building and maintaining a close, productive, and enduring board-CEO working relationship is a well-designed and meticulously executed process for board evaluation of CEO performance. CEO evaluation is often carried out by the board’s “governance” (sometimes called “board operations”) committee – at least annually and often semi-annually early in the CEO’s tenure.  I’m pleased to report that in recent years, an increasing number of transit boards have moved away from those once-popular but highly subjective questionnaires that assess the CEO’s functional excellence (for example, … Read the rest

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Discussing Board Committees at APTA’s Transit Board Members Seminar on July 24

August 11, 2017 0 Comments

It was a distinct privilege and pleasure teaming up with Dave Stackrow in presenting our “Building a Rock-Solid Transit Board-CEO Partnership” program on July 24 in Chicago at APTA’s Transit Board Members and Board Support Seminar. You no doubt know that Dave chairs APTA’s Transit Board Members Committee and serves on the Executive Committee.  He is also the long-time Chair of the Board … Read the rest

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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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