Three different public transportation CEOs, three different but related true stories about strengthening the board chair-CEO working relationship:
- The CEO got a call from the president of the local chamber of commerce, inviting the CEO to speak at the upcoming chamber luncheon meeting about the tie between public transportation and economic development. Knowing her chair’s strong interest in economic development and how much he enjoyed speaking, the CEO recommended her chair for the job. It turns out he was a great choice, acquitting himself extremely well at the podium and even joining the chamber’s economic development committee a few months later .
- Over lunch soon after the new board chair’s election, the chair confided in the CEO that she really hoped that, as chair, she’d have opportunities to sharpen her speaking skills. She’d avoided public speaking up to now, but felt that becoming a more comfortable, accomplished speaker would serve her well career-wise. So her CEO went out of his way to secure his chair speaking engagements, and not only made sure she was equipped with pertinent information and visual aids, but also provided her with personal coaching and opportunities to rehearse upcoming presentations.
- Having been invited to meet with the editorial board of the local paper over lunch three weeks hence to discuss the transportation authority’s quarter-cent sales tax increase on the ballot next November, the CEO made sure her chair was invited to accompany her to the meeting. She knew her chair well enough to know he relished the limelight and would really enjoy the occasion. She also knew that her chair would be well-prepared to discuss the ballot issue and hence would make a great partner in this high-stakes meeting.
All three of these extremely board-savvy transportation CEOs were doing something that I’ve seen many board-savvy CEOs do over the years: find ways to provide their board chairs – for the most part paid little or nothing – with a form of non-monetary compensation that invariably helps to cement their working relationship. Of course, this simple but important step does require that the CEO get to know her chair really well; otherwise, she couldn’t be confident that particular forms of non-monetary compensation would fit her chair’s needs, desires, and expectations. And it also requires that the board-savvy CEO always be on the lookout for compensation opportunities.
Speaking of the board chair-CEO working relationship, if you haven’t listened to CEO Carm Basile and his chair at the Capital District Transportation Authority, David Stackrow, talking about their highly productive partnership in this recent podcast, check it out.