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Board-CEO Relationship

Board Spear Carriers:  Protecting the CEO’s Line of Credit

September 28, 2020 0 Comments

Over the course of my 30-plus years of work with public transit boards and their CEOs, I’ve learned that executives aspiring to take the helm of a transit authority are often woefully ill-prepared to build the kind of partnership with their new board that is critical to their success and to their longevity at the top.  Dave Stackrow and I, in our new book Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership (Governance Edge 2019), discuss two major reasons for this often-professionally fatal shortcoming:  the absence of detailed, practical, experience-based courses on governance generally and board-CEO relationship building particularly in graduate schools of … Read the rest

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Welcome to the Frontier!

July 21, 2020 0 Comments

Dave Stackrow and I opened the APTA video webinar we recently presented under the auspices of the APTA Board Members Committee by observing that public transit governance is frontier territory.  Far from being a mature, fully developed field, transit governance is characterized by the absence of universally accepted principles and best practices, which are the subject of often-vociferous debate around the country.  In fact, when conducting research for our new book on transit governance, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership (Governance Edge, 2019), Dave and I weren’t surprised to learn – actually, confirm – that there’s not even widespread agreement on … Read the rest

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Beware of the Passive-Reactive Board

June 8, 2020 0 Comments

Over the years, a basically passive-reactive approach to governing – a model of sorts – has been passed down and has predominated – and probably still predominates – in both the for-profit and public/nonprofit sectors.   This approach – or model – sees the governing board as basically a responsive body, rather than as a generator or initiator of actions or products.  You can picture the passive-reactive board sitting at the pinnacle of the organization, waiting for staff-initiated things – policy recommendations, documents such as plans and budgets that call for adoption, briefings that require no action, etc. – to arrive, … 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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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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Board Evaluation of CEO Performance Can Be a Powerful Relationship Builder

April 24, 2019 0 Comments

Dave Stackrow and I weren’t able to cover the segment on board evaluation of CEO performance because we chose to leave more time for the CEO panel following our presentation at APTA’s CEOs Seminar on April 14.  Since it’s such a critical subject, which we address in our new book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership:  A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/building-a-solid-board-ceo-partnership/), we decided to share some of the key points that we make in the book in this post.

Experience has taught us that a well-designed process for board evaluation of CEO performance … Read the rest

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Why We Wrote Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership

April 5, 2019 0 Comments

 

This article is drawn from Chapter One of our book Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership: A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants. Readers will find a description of our book’s contents and order information at: https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/building-a-solid-board-ceo-partnership/.

Doug Eadie and David Stackrow

Experience has taught us that governing is both the highest form of leadership and a tremendously complex and high-stakes function that under the best of circumstances is difficult to do at a consistently high level. The decisions that your board makes, working closely with your authority’s chief executive officer and executive team, establish your … Read the rest

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The Prohibitive Cost of a Weak Board-CEO Partnership

February 7, 2019 0 Comments

Dave Stackrow and I are pleased to tell you that our forthcoming book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership:  A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants, has gone to press.  It should hit the streets in late March 2019.  The following fifth and final excerpt from our book talks about the high cost a transit authority will pay for letting the partnership between its board and CEO remain weak or deteriorate.

Your transit authority can expect to pay a high price for failing to develop a close, positive board-CEO partnership or for allowing it to deteriorate.  For … Read the rest

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