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Board-CEO Relationship

Don’t Fall Into the Policy Governance Trap

December 1, 2016 0 Comments

jumping spiderA 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 the plan … Read the rest

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Boosting Your Board’s Self-Esteem

July 12, 2016 0 Comments

Sounds good to me!Hundreds of interviews with transportation board members over the years have taught me a valuable lesson.  Board members who take pride in their boards – and in their governing work – make more reliable partners for the CEO – the kind who’ll back you up when the you-know-what hits the proverbial fan, as it always eventually does.  And I’ve also learned that getting board members formally involved in managing their own governing performance is a sure-fire way to boost their self-esteem.

The December 2, 2015 post at this blog, “Strengthening Your Board’s Performance Management Is a Wise Investment,” tells how … Read the rest

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Not Much Glamour – But This Apparent Sow’s Ear Is Really a Silk Purse

July 6, 2016 0 Comments
         Doug Eadie

Doug Eadie

“That doesn’t really sound very CEO-like”  That was the initial reaction of a transit GM in our coaching session a couple of years ago 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 11-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 … Read the rest

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Another Insidious Foe To Watch Out For

June 3, 2016 0 Comments

jumping spider“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 in terms … Read the rest

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Beware of Those Insidious Foes That Can Do You In

April 8, 2016 0 Comments

jumping spider

I’m working on a new book about “insidious foes” of a close, positive, and productive board-CEO working relationship.  The foes are erroneous assumptions that can do serious damage to the  relationship.  A foe is “insidious” if it isn’t obviously dangerous.  In fact, many “insidious foes” are especially dangerous because they’re nuggets of conventional wisdom that appear to make good sense and don’t seem at all threatening at first blush.

An insidious foe that came immediately to mind when I was brainstorming my initial list was the erroneous assumption that organizational performance essentially determines the health of the board-CEO working relationship.  … Read the rest

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Carm Basile and Steve Bland On Getting Ready To Work With a Board

February 3, 2016 0 Comments

The January 27 post at this blog – “How Ironic – and Dangerous!” – talks about how little attention has been paid to helping senior public transportation executives who are CEO-aspirants get ready to work with a board. This is really ironic when you consider that the single most important factor determining a public transportation CEO’s success – and longevity at the helm … Read the rest

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Tending To Your Preeminent Stakeholder

July 8, 2015 0 Comments

One of the brDiverse People in Meeting With Speech Bubbleseakout groups at a board-CEO/GM retreat I recently facilitated had a great time going through what I call the “stakeholder relationship maintenance” exercise.  The six breakout group participants, who were led by the chair of the board’s external/stakeholder relations committee, first made a list of all of the authority’s important stakeholders.  By the way, for purposes of the exercise, we defined a “stakeholder” as any formal organization or group external to the authority with which it made sense to build and maintain a relationship because of the stakes involved – such as money and political support.  … Read the rest

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Non-Monetary Compensation Part II: A Costly Missed Opportunity

March 10, 2015 1 Comment

Walking into the authority’s boardroom to meet with the board chair, I was surprised to find her fuming.  Before I could even say “good morning,” she slammed the metro section of the daily paper down on the table, saying “Take a look at this.”  In a nutshell, a reporter on the metro beat had spent a couple of hours talking with the authority’s CEO about the agreement that the authority and local community college had entered into for the provision of bus service to students.  The piece was really laudatory, praising the authority’s CEO for leading the charge to expand … Read the rest

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Use Non-monetary Compensation To Cement the Relationship With Your Board Chair

February 26, 2015 1 Comment

Three different public transportation CEOs, three different but related true stories about strengthening the board chair-CEO working relationship:

  • The CEO got a call from the president of the local chamber of commerce, inviting the CEO to speak at the upcoming chamber luncheon meeting about the tie between public transportation and economic development. Knowing her chair’s strong interest in economic development and how much he enjoyed speaking, the CEO recommended her chair for the job. It turns out he was a great choice, acquitting himself extremely well at the podium and even joining the chamber’s economic development committee a few months
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CEOs Susan Meyer and Gary Thomas on Board-CEO Communication and Interaction

February 4, 2015 1 Comment

Keeping the board-CEO working relationship on an even keel and healthy over the long run is a major challenge. Just the fact that strong-willed people with robust egos have to be melded into enough of a team to do the extremely complex and demanding work of governing is challenging enough, but other factors tend to make the board-CEO partnership inherently fragile and prone to erode quickly if not diligently managed. For one thing, the high-pressure atmosphere at the top of your transportation authority, where high-stakes and often tremendously thorny issues are addressed – frequently with intense public scrutiny – tends … Read the rest

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