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Board-CEO Relationship

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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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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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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CEO-Centric Leadership Targets Are Key to a Solid Board-Chief Executive Partnership

March 2, 2021 0 Comments

Around fifteen years ago I was retained to facilitate  a half-day work session involving a transit board and its CEO.  In our initial call to discuss the work session objectives, the board chair and  CEO agreed that there was one preeminent objective:  repairing a badly frayed board-CEO  partnership that, in their estimation, was dangerously close to the breaking point.  The  one-on-one interviews I conducted with all fifteen board members and the CEO as part of  my preparation for the event indicated a startling and dangerous divergence of opinion.  Nine of the board members strongly believed  that their CEO’s top leadership … Read the rest

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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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