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Tag: transit board-CEO relations

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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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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Foothill Transit’s Doran Barnes:  Energizer-in-Chief Extraordinaire

May 4, 2020 0 Comments

Our readers will recall that the March 31 post at this blog, “Crises Demand Energizers-in-Chief at All Levels” (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/crises-demand-energizers-in-chief-at-all-levels/), describes chief executives who wear the Energizer-in-Chief hat in tackling the twin challenges of education and inspiration during crises such as Covid 19.  “On the one hand,” the March 31 post explains, “people naturally hunger for explanation and explication.  They crave understanding: of the forces at work in the crisis, and of the extent of the danger they are in.  On the other, they crave hope – that resolute, capable leadership will bring the ordeal to an end.”

You’ll … Read the rest

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Don’t Count on Even Superb Performance Always Cutting it!

March 20, 2020 0 Comments

When I walked in Rich’s office for our weekly project review meeting, I found him slumped at his desk looking distraught.  When I asked him what’d happened, he just said “take a look,” handing me a form.  It was the annual performance evaluation his board had performed a couple of days ago.  Scanning the document, I couldn’t fathom his distress since his scores were uniformly high – in fact, superb.  That is, until I reached the bottom and saw the conclusion, which said in so many words, “You do a great job, but we find working with you impossible.”  He Read the rest

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CEO Evaluation: a Potentially Powerful Relationship Adhesive

March 9, 2020 0 Comments

At a daylong “High-Impact Governing Work Session” last fall, the board, executive director/CEO and executive team of Access Services in Los Angeles County spent around 1 ½ hours  discussing practical ways to cement the executive director’s working relationship with his board.  One of the relationship building tools the group closely examined was board evaluation of the executive director’s performance.  But they didn’t mean one of those highly subjective and essentially meaningless questionnaires that board members often individually fill out in the privacy of their own offices.

These questionnaires miss the point by having board members assess their CEO’s functional excellence … Read the rest

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Ownership: the Fuel that Powers Significant Board Change

October 10, 2019 0 Comments

Let’s begin with a sad and all-too-familiar true tale of woe that a transit general manager recounted to me in one of our early coaching sessions. A few months earlier, he and the governance consultant he’d retained to analyze his board’s structure joined all board members in a special two-hour work session to consider a recommended new committee structure to replace the administratively-focused, narrow “silo” committees that the GM and consultant agreed were leading to rampant board micro-management. Standing at the front of the conference room, the GM and his consultant began the PowerPoint presentation describing the functions of the … Read the rest

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