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Tag: transit CEO leadership

The Creativity-Innovation Nexus: Part One of Our Creativity Series

May 23, 2019 0 Comments

The innovation process – and the role of the chief executive as your authority’s “Chief Innovation Officer” – has been a major focus of this blog, and several posts have featured real-life cases of successful implementation of significant innovation initiatives. Our focus on innovation makes the best of sense in light of the challenges facing all transit authorities and other public/nonprofit organizations in these times of rapid change. Building your authority’s capacity to innovate is the key to future stability and growth, and standing pat, clinging to the present, is a sure-fire recipe for decline.

Up to now, our posts … Read the rest

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Board Evaluation of CEO Performance Can Be a Powerful Relationship Builder

April 24, 2019 0 Comments

Dave Stackrow and I weren’t able to cover the segment on board evaluation of CEO performance because we chose to leave more time for the CEO panel following our presentation at APTA’s CEOs Seminar on April 14.  Since it’s such a critical subject, which we address in our new book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership:  A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants (https://boardsavvytransitceo.com/building-a-solid-board-ceo-partnership/), we decided to share some of the key points that we make in the book in this post.

Experience has taught us that a well-designed process for board evaluation of CEO performance … Read the rest

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Comet CEO John Andoh Wearing the Innovator-in-Chief Hat

April 1, 2019 0 Comments

Experience has taught me that successfully implementing significant out of the box change initiatives depends on the strong leadership of a chief executive officer wearing what I call the “Innovator-in-Chief” hat. CEOs I’ve observed over the years succeed at the Innovator-in-Chief role have without exception been what I think of as “change-savvy.” This means that:

They’ve been technically very knowledgeable about best practices in the rapidly changing area of change planning and management, which means they haven’t been wedded to conventional planning wisdom and out-of-date approaches. You’ll never hear a change-savvy CEO extolling the virtues of traditional long-range (or “strategic”) … Read the rest

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The Prohibitive Cost of a Weak Board-CEO Partnership

February 7, 2019 0 Comments

Dave Stackrow and I are pleased to tell you that our forthcoming book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership:  A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants, has gone to press.  It should hit the streets in late March 2019.  The following fifth and final excerpt from our book talks about the high cost a transit authority will pay for letting the partnership between its board and CEO remain weak or deteriorate.

Your transit authority can expect to pay a high price for failing to develop a close, positive board-CEO partnership or for allowing it to deteriorate.  For … Read the rest

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GM Jeff Knueppel Walks the Employee Engagement Talk at SEPTA

February 4, 2019 0 Comments

Early in my career I experienced at close range a CEO not walking his talk.  I was serving as chief of staff to the president of a large three-campus community college.  With the urging of his board’s officers, my boss decided that he needed to focus far more heavily on the institution’s external agenda – specifically, on building close working relationships with the chief executives of critical stakeholder organizations like the community foundation and neighboring universities.  So, as a strategy to buy precious time for his expanded external role, the president tapped his executive vice president to become the college’s … Read the rest

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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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Not Much Glamour – But What Looks Like a Sow’s Ear is Really a Silk Purse

November 9, 2018 0 Comments

“That doesn’t really sound very CEO-like” That was the initial reaction of a transit GM in our coaching session last year when I suggested that he put on what I called the “Chief Governing Process Designer Hat.” We were discussing an issue he’d identified in our session a couple of weeks earlier that he’d described as “terribly worrisome.” In a nutshell, although his relationship with the 15-member board seemed generally OK as far as he could tell – with no severe tension points or other obvious problems – he had a gut feel that most if not all of his … 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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