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Tag: transit board leadership

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

June 1, 2021 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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Your Board Chair:  a Primo Stakeholder You Neglect at Your Peril

May 20, 2021 0 Comments

The special board work session had been scheduled to consider a key recommendation coming out of the daylong board-CEO-executive team governance retreat three  weeks earlier: replacing the board’s dysfunctional silo committees (e.g.,  paratransit services) with committees aligned with the board’s broad governing functions (e.g., strategic and operational planning).  Not long into the session, the CEO realized that her preparation had been  fatally flawed.  When five particularly obstreperous board members launched a full-bore attack on the recommended structure, the CEO expected the board chair to join her in beating back the attack.  Alas, he sat back quietly, leaving her alone at … Read the rest

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Solving the Board Development Puzzle:  the How

April 14, 2021 0 Comments

Our readers might recall that the March 25 post at this blog dealt with two pieces of the board development puzzle:  WHAT does board development mean?  WHY is it critical that the CEO spearhead board development, wearing the Board Developer-in-Chief hat?  The post points out that your transit board – like any other formal organization – can be consciously and systematically developed into an organization more capable of carrying out its mission:  to govern your authority.  Of course, board development is an ongoing function because the field of transit governance is continuously evolving.  Another important point the post makes is … 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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The Change Investment Portfolio:  A Practical Tool For Transformational Change Leaders

November 12, 2020 0 Comments

The November 6 post at this blog features Andre Colaiace, Executive Director of Access Services in Los Angeles County, CA, as a prime example of a new-style chief executive:  the Transformational Change Leader.  The post describes 5 key attributes of CEOs who succeed at leading transformative change, including being “laser-focused” on very concrete change initiatives that are the polar opposite of the “Christmas list” of goals found in traditional long-range strategic planning tomes.

My and David Stackrow’s book Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership (www.governanceedge.com) describes a very powerful change-focused planning logic and methodology that have been developed and … 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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Bringing New Board Members On Board – the Right Way

August 24, 2020 0 Comments

The GM, along with his top five executives, made sure the two incoming board members, neither of whom had been involved with public transportation issues, got a thorough briefing on the authority during the two-hour orientation session in the GM’s office.   They learned about the authority’s services, organizational structure, revenue streams, expenditure budget, and long-range capital plan, among other things, referring frequently to the handsome notebook staff had put together. There was plenty of time to ask questions over the box lunch following the staff presentation, after which the chief operating officer took the incoming board members on a tour 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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