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Tag: transit board leadership

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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Board Chair Trudy Bartley and CEO Joanna Pinkerton on Breaking the Traditional CEO Mold at COTA

November 1, 2018 0 Comments

Traditionally, at the top of the list of qualifications public transit boards specify when recruiting candidates for the CEO position is in-depth operational experience.  So it’s no surprise that over the years the great majority of vacant CEO positions have been filled with executives who have worked their way up the operational ladder in one or more transit authorities.  This operational bias is easily understandable.  Even small to medium-sized transit authorities are incredibly complex organizations – both operationally and technically – and it’s only natural to want an executive in the top spot who can keep the buses and trains … 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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Caveat Emptor: an Axiom All Really Board-Savvy CEOs Take to Heart

October 19, 2018 0 Comments

To judge from participants’ questions during and after the workshop that Dave Stackrow, Carm Basile and I presented on September 25 at the APTA Annual Meeting in Nashville, one of the concepts we discussed that struck a real chord was that “board-savvy” transit CEOs are a preeminent key to building a solid board-CEO partnership that can withstand the inevitable stresses and strains at the top of every transit authority.   And one characteristic of board-savvy CEOs that sparked the most discussion during our workshop was the ability to spot dubious assumptions about the rapidly changing field of transit governance that we … Read the rest

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The CEO as Chief Board Developer: Part 1

August 6, 2018 0 Comments

Since strong, creative board leadership is one of the preeminent keys to your transit authority’s long-term success in this changing, challenging world, board capacity building must be one of your top three CEO leadership priorities. Any CEO (and I hear this every now and then) who sits back bemoaning the board’s lackluster leadership without taking affirmative action to help the board become a higher-impact governing body is guilty of dereliction of duty – and of being less than a full-fledged CEO.

In my experience, as your authority’s CEO, you must be not just an active participant in – but also … 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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Turning Your Board Into a Cohesive Governing Team: Part 2

July 17, 2018 0 Comments

As I noted in last week’s post at this blog, turning transit boards into really cohesive governing teams is no piece of cake, primarily because the great majority of transit board members are appointed by elected officials.  In practice this means that many if not most transit board members feel as – if not more – accountable to their appointing authorities than to their board colleagues.  Now matter how stiff the challenge, however, board-savvy transit CEOs know that they’ve got no choice but to help their boards become more effective governing teams for two main reasons.  First, teamwork is one … 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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