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Board-CEO Relationship

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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Emerging New CEO Governing Model

January 7, 2019 0 Comments


The following article is excerpted from Doug Eadie and Dave Stackrow’s forthcoming book, Becoming Your Board’s Chief Governing Partner:  a Practical Guidebook for Transit CEOs and CEO-aspirants.

In our travels around the country these days, we see an increasing number of new-style public and nonprofit sector chief executives, including many in the transit industry, who you won’t find astride the fire wall vigilantly guarding against incursions by micro-managing board members.  This emerging new model of CEO leadership in the governing arena, which has no doubt emerged in reaction to the bankruptcy of the traditional view, sees the chief executive … Read the rest

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The Captain of Your Strategic Governing Team

January 3, 2019 0 Comments

The following article is excerpted from Doug Eadie and Dave Stackrow’s forthcoming book, Becoming Your Board’s Chief Governing Partner:  a Practical Guidebook for Transit CEOs and CEO-aspirants.

When a public transit board  chooses its CEO, it’s also choosing the de facto captain of the Strategic Governing Team.  Governing really is a collaborative venture, involving intensive, well-orchestrated teamwork to ensure that the decisions and judgments that constitute governing work are made in a full and timely fashion.  Your transit  board is obviously the most senior member of the Strategic Governing Team – the ultimate authority, judge and decision maker.  However, … Read the rest

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Governing Isn’t a Piece of Cake

November 27, 2018 0 Comments

As our most of you know, Dave Stackrow and I are writing a book, “Becoming Your Board’s Chief Governing Partner:  a Practical Guidebook for Transit CEOs and CEO-Aspirants.”  So you have a sense of where we’re headed with our book, we’d like to share our discussion in Chapter One of the challenges that can make developing your transit board into a really high-impact governing body a daunting endeavor.  Let us know what you think.  Are we headed in the right direction?

Transforming your public transit board into a really high-performing, high-impact governing body and building and maintaining a solid board-CEO … Read the rest

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Not Much Glamour – But What Looks Like a Sow’s Ear is Really a Silk Purse

November 9, 2018 0 Comments

“That doesn’t really sound very CEO-like” That was the initial reaction of a transit GM in our coaching session last year when I suggested that he put on what I called the “Chief Governing Process Designer Hat.” We were discussing an issue he’d identified in our session a couple of weeks earlier that he’d described as “terribly worrisome.” In a nutshell, although his relationship with the 15-member board seemed generally OK as far as he could tell – with no severe tension points or other obvious problems – he had a gut feel that most if not all of his … Read the rest

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CEO Doug Allen Keeps a Close Eye on His Preeminent Stakeholders at VRE

October 29, 2018 0 Comments

Doug Allen, Chief Executive Officer of Virginia Railway Express, doesn’t need to hear this true cautionary tale, as you’ll see from the podcast he recently recorded for this blog.

A few years ago I arrived at the administrative offices of a mid-size transit authority to meet with the CEO, who wanted to discuss my possibly helping to design and facilitate a daylong board-executive team retreat.  On the telephone the day before, he’d told me that the situation was “pretty urgent” since his relationship with the board was terribly frayed. It turned out that I’d made a wasted trip.  Ushered into Read the rest

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Aurora Jackson: A Consummate Chief Governing Relationship Manager

August 30, 2018 0 Comments

Not long ago I spent three hours with the governance committee (including the chief executive) of the board of a large senior services nonprofit, sitting as the board’s nominating committee. Faced with six vacant board seats to fill six months hence, committee members were taking the first critical step in the process: updating the profile of desirable board member attributes and qualifications that they’d be using in identifying and assessing candidates to fill the six openings. This is, as our readers no doubt know, one of the most important responsibilities of the self-appointing boards that predominate in the nonprofit sector. … Read the rest

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Beware of the Passive-Reactive Board

July 31, 2018 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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Get Your Board-CEO Retreat Right

July 5, 2018 0 Comments

Retreats have become a popular vehicle for involving transit board members, their CEOs, and executives in accomplishing high-impact governing work that could not be accomplished – at least not as well – in regular board business meetings.  Updating a vision statement and identifying and discussing strategic and operational issues certainly fall in this category.  The return on your authority’s investment of time, energy, and money in a retreat can be quite powerful, in terms not only of substantive outcomes such as an updated vision statement, but also process spin-offs such as esprit de corps, satisfaction, ownership of – and commitment … Read the rest

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Cementing the Partnership With Your Board

June 19, 2018 0 Comments

This post has been adapted from an article that originally appeared in the Spring 2018 edition of the Association Forum’s “CEOnly Newsletter.”  It is reprinted here with the Forum’s permission.

Satisfied Owners Make Better Partners

Thirty years of working with public and nonprofit boards of all shapes and sizes and their chief executives  have taught me that your long-term success and professional longevity as CEO of your transit authority have more to do with maintaining a healthy partnership with your board than any other factor.  I’ve also learned that even if your transit authority is thriving in terms of operational … Read the rest

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