I’m pleased to share the new video interview that our colleague Joanna M. Pinkerton, President/CEO of the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), recently recorded for www.boardsavvytransitceo.com. Joanna leads a panel discussion on my and Dave Stackrow’s new book, Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership: A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants. The panelists are Jeff Arndt, President and CEO, VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority (San Antonio); Steve Bland, CEO of Nashville MTA; and Nat Ford, CEO of the Jacksonville Transportation Authority. After I describe the book’s intended audience and takeaways, and explain why Dave and I wrote the book, the panelists respond to three questions from Joanna: What makes the book a powerful resource for transit board members, CEOs, and executive team members? What chapters are most useful to panelists in their work? What topics or issues do panelists think should be covered in a possible second edition of the book? I then respond to panelists’ questions about our book.
The interview proved to be a powerful learning experience for me. In the first place, Joanna, Jeff, Steve, and Nat affirm certain key assumptions and principles that guided Dave and me in preparing the manuscript of Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership, including:
- The chief executive officer position is different in-kind from all other executive positions, and CEO-aspirants are highly unlikely to acquire the skills and knowledge they need to succeed as a CEO by climbing a transit authority’s professional ladder.
- The chief executive officer must play the role of “Board Developer-in-Chief” with gusto, for two compelling reasons: (1) The CEO’s effectiveness heavily depends on the support of a fully-developed board. (2) Board members possess neither the expertise nor time to take the lead in developing their board.
- Distance is anything but a virtue where the board-CEO working relationship is concerned. Board-savvy transit CEOs know that they must cultivate a really close, positive, and productive relationship with their board if they hope to succeed at the helm of their authority, beginning with the board chair.
- One of the key jobs of every CEO is to take the lead in designing processes for actively engaging board members in shaping – not just making – governing decisions and judgments. Board-savvy transit CEOs know that meaningful engagement turns board members into owners who are committed to the decisions they make.
Panelists shared their thoughts about the issues and topics that might be addressed in a second edition of my and Dave’s book. One of the more intriguing suggestions was that Dave and I should add a section if not a chapter on the very important subject of CEO retention. Specifically, this new section should address what board members can do to ensure that their CEO succeeds and that the board-CEO partnership remains healthy.
Dave and I welcome your suggestions relative to topics that should be covered in a possible second edition of our book.