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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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Have You Considered Adding a Chief Operating Officer To Your Executive Team?

May 19, 2017 0 Comments

         Doug Eadie

A two-person executive office consisting of a chief executive officer who focuses on the relationship with the board, strategic planning, and external/stakeholder relations, and a chief operating officer (COO) who oversees all internal operations, is a staple in the for-profit sector. And these days I’m seeing the configuration more frequently in larger public and nonprofit corporations where several senior executives once reported directly to the CEO.  There’s a pretty compelling reason for adopting this executive management structure:  freeing up the CEO to focus upward and outward – interacting intensively with her board of directors, promoting her organization’s image … Read the rest

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The Board Savviness of CEO Candidates Critical To a Solid Board-CEO Relationship

April 27, 2017 0 Comments

Doug Eadie

It was, as Yogi observed, “déjà vu all over again.”  After I’d spent a couple of hours talking with the CEO who’d called me to talk about problems he was having with his board, one thing was pretty obvious. Despite his having spent three years at the helm of the authority after ten years working his way up the executive ladder, this beleaguered leader didn’t possess the board savviness he needed to build and maintain a really solid working relationship with his board.  So his job was in serious jeopardy.  He’d been captive to an especially insidious and … 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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Vision: Your Board’s Driver of Innovation and Change

March 25, 2017 0 Comments

This article originally appeared at our Extraordinary CEO blog.  It is just as pertinent to public transit leaders.

A few months ago I sat in on a meeting of the board planning committee of a nonprofit economic development corporation.  We were running through an outline of the agenda for the corporation’s upcoming board-CEO-executive team daylong “strategic work session,” which would kick-off the corporation’s annual planning cycle.  Things were going really smoothly until we got to the description of the breakout group that was to fashion an updated vision statement for the corporation.  Three of the seven committee members immediately went … 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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Two More Tips For Transit CEO-Aspirants

March 1, 2017 0 Comments

I opened the “Hit the Ground Running With Your New Board” webinar I recently presented for the New York Public Transportation Association by describing two “facts of life” in the public transportation business:  that surviving and thriving as a CEO depends on a rock-solid board-CEO partnership; and that this critical partnership is difficult to build and in the best of times fragile.  Indeed, I’d say that board-CEO relations is pretty treacherous terrain even for seasoned CEOs, much less for brand new CEOs who’ve never worked with a board.  One of the challenges that all CEOs face is the plethora of … Read the rest

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Make Sure Your Board Does a Really Good Job of Evaluating Your Performance

February 7, 2017 0 Comments

The really board-savvy transit CEOs I’ve worked with over the years make sure that their board regularly evaluates their performance, employing a well-designed process that is both thoughtful and substantive.  Why?  Because these CEOs well know that board evaluation of their performance is one of the most powerful tools for building and maintaining a solid board-CEO working relationship that can withstand the inevitable stresses and strains at the top of every transit authority.  So I’ll be spending several minutes discussing CEO evaluation during the “Hit the Ground Running With Your New Board” webinar I’ll be presenting later this month for … Read the rest

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Six Hats that Extraordinary Transit CEOs Wear

January 25, 2017 0 Comments

Doug Eadie

As part of my transit and nonprofit CEO coaching work over the past several years, I’ve developed six “hats” that – in my experience – really extraordinary chief executives wear.  These roles have proved to be a very useful framework for taking chief executive leadership to the next level.  I’ll be really interested in hearing from readers about their views on the work that extraordinary leaders do.  Here are the six “hats:”

  • Chief Board Governing Partner:  taking the lead in helping the board build its governing capacity and building and maintaining a close, positive, and productive board-CEO
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CDTA’s David Stackrow and Carm Basile on the Board Chair-CEO Partnership

January 17, 2017 0 Comments

I talked with Dave Stackrow, long-tenured Chair of the Board of the Capital District Transportation Authority (Albany, New York), a couple of days ago about providing transit board members with the information they need to build really solid partnerships with their CEOs.  We agreed that the indispensable foundation for board-CEO partnership building is a really close board chair-CEO working relationship.  While we were … Read the rest

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