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Tag: transit board-CEO relations

3 Quick Fixes That Won’t Corral the Rogues on Your Board

July 1, 2021 0 Comments

“Rogue” board members are trouble makers who march to their own governing tune at their own tempo, with little concern about the impact on their board colleagues.  Their behavior can erode a board’s governing performance and poison a board’s culture, while in the process occasionally even tarnishing a transit authority’s image in the community.  The most effective approach to fencing your rogue board members in and preventing them from wreaking havoc is fully developing your board’s governing architecture.  In a nutshell, this involves such elements as a detailed description of your board’s governing responsibilities; a well-designed standing committee structure; strong … Read the rest

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An Error of Judgment I Won’t Repeat

June 23, 2021 0 Comments

A little over five years ago I made an error of judgment that taught me a couple of really valuable lessons.  I’d been retained by a Midwestern transit authority to assist in planning, facilitating, and following up on a daylong board “governance improvement work session.”  During my first meeting with the steering committee overseeing my work – the board chair, vice chair and two other board members – I advised my colleagues to include the CEO and his executive team members in our work session, explaining that this had become standard practice for a number of very sound reasons.  Based … 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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The Zoom Muzzle Syndrome Redux

November 30, 2020 0 Comments

My August 6 post at this blog, “Combatting the Zoom Muzzle Syndrome (ZMS),” begins by pointing out that Zoom has proved to be a very effective vehicle for holding virtual work sessions at which participants can reach consensus on complex matters, such as an updated board committee structure, without exposing them to Covid-19.  I go on to say, however, that generating intense participant engagement in addressing really complex issues – the kind of participation characterized by robust discussion and really critical questioning – has proved to be a real challenge when employing Zoom video conferencing.   As I say in that … Read the rest

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Don’t Unwittingly Turn Your Board Members Into Victims of Poorly Designed Structure and Process

October 15, 2020 0 Comments

A transit CEO  called me not long ago, asking if I’d be interested in presenting a governance training workshop for his transit board.  He explained that several board members were coming dangerously close to “micro-managing,” and he wanted them to understand the boundaries between “executive” and “governing” work.  The example he gave involved a discussion at the most recent board meeting about travel expenditures over the past six months, including how decisions were made about who would be taking what trips and what kinds of reports were required about travel.

I agreed that there did appear to be some micro-managing … 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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Two Lynchpins of a High-Performing Board Committee Structure

August 13, 2020 0 Comments

While preparing for an upcoming workshop with the CEO of a transit authority and her executive team recently, focusing on the nuts and bolts details involved in launching a new board committee structure, I reflected on a seminal learning experience early in my career, when I was chief of staff to the president of a three-campus urban community college district.  How fortunate I was to learn such an important lesson so early in my professional journey that has served me well in the ensuing years!   Here’s the story in a nutshell.

Over the course of the three years he chaired … 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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