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Tag: transit CEO leadership

Top-Flight Performance Won’t Keep the Relationship With Your Board Healthy

May 5, 2022 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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Bagging Three Big Feathered Friends

April 14, 2022 0 Comments

Let me tell you a tale of two authorities’ very different approaches to presenting financial performance reports at their monthly board meetings.  Authority A takes a pretty traditional approach.  The authority’s CFO thoroughly reviews the multi-page financial report, consisting of rows and columns of numbers, with the board’s finance committee, which passes the report along to the full board in the monthly board meeting packet.  The CFO presents highlights from the report at the full board meeting and answers any questions the board might have.

Authority B’s approach is dramatically different.  The CFO takes the board’s performance monitoring committee through … Read the rest

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A Rock-Solid Board President-CEO Leadership Team at Work at GCRTA

March 4, 2022 0 Comments

In the video interview we recently recorded, Rev. Charles Lucas, Board President, and India Birdsong, General Manager/CEO, of the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority describe the close, positive, and highly productive partnership they’ve developed.  It is indicative of a striking development in the rapidly evolving field of public transit governance:  the recognition that a really solid board chair-CEO leadership team is critical to the CEO’s success, to the authority’s performance, and to its image in the community.  GCRTA is in the vanguard of the growing number of public transit authorities led by dynamic chair-CEO duos.

This recognition is a latecomer … Read the rest

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Making the Annual Budget Preparation Process an Innovation Engine

February 8, 2022 0 Comments

I’ve never come across a CEO who wasn’t pretty much an expert in the art of annual budget preparation by the time she first takes the helm of an authority. This isn’t the least surprising when you think about it.  Climbing the professional ladder, CEO-aspirants have typically devoted hundreds of hours to preparing, reviewing, revising, and – eventually, at a senior executive level – consolidating budget requests by the time they reach the top.  These newly minted chief executive officers understand how to capitalize on the budget preparation process as a highly effective and reliable vehicle for exerting management control. … Read the rest

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What’s in Your Board Chair’s Compensation Package?

January 19, 2022 0 Comments

I’ll never forget walking into a transit authority’s board room several years ago. I found the board chair – a highly influential attorney – fuming.  When I asked what was wrong, he handed me a clipping from the community affairs section of the local paper, saying “read this and you’ll see.”  The piece was a glowing review of the authority’s new agreement with the local three-campus community college system – providing frequent, convenient bus service to students.  I couldn’t see what the problem was until I got near the end of the piece, when I read a long quote from … Read the rest

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How Transit CEO-Aspirants Can Demonstrate Board-Savviness to Search Committees

December 8, 2021 0 Comments

A major ongoing theme of www.boardsavvytransitceo.com has been preparing executive team members who are what we call CEO-aspirants to build productive, enduring partnerships with their new board.  As our readers well know, a shaky board-CEO working relationship is virtually certain to dramatically shorten a CEO’s tenure if it persists.  Well-designed training programs can be helpful in preparing CEO-aspirants  to meet the partnership building challenge once they take the helm.  However. in my professional opinion no one is better positioned to transform  executives into board-savvy CEO-aspirants than the CEO herself, wearing her mentoring hat.   You’ll recall that our November 4 post … Read the rest

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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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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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Solving the Board Development Puzzle: the What and the Why  

March 25, 2021 0 Comments

The half-day Zoom governance workshop I presented a couple of weeks ago for 25-some CEOs of a diverse array of transit authorities included a segment on board development.  Early in my career I would  have been a trifle worried that the topic might be ho-hum for some of the more seasoned  CEOs, but I soon learned I needn’t have been concerned.   Since much of the terrain we covered in the workshop turned  out to be refreshingly new to the great majority of my participants,  I think readers of this blog will be interested  in the key points  that came up … Read the rest

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