This article is drawn from Chapter One of our book Building a Solid Board-CEO Partnership: A Practical Guidebook for Transit Board Members, CEOs, and CEO-Aspirants. Readers will find a description of our book’s contents and order information at: https://www.dougeadie.com/building-a-solid-board-ceo-partnership/.
Doug Eadie and David Stackrow
Experience has taught us that governing is both the highest form of leadership and a tremendously complex and high-stakes function that under the best of circumstances is difficult to do at a consistently high level. The decisions that your board makes, working closely with your authority’s chief executive officer and executive team, establish your authority’s long-range directions – its vision and strategic goals – determine its range of services, set its operational priorities, allocate its resources, and much more.
Writing this book has been a passionate endeavor not only because of what’s at stake in governing, but also because we have learned over the years that the need for practical guidance – for transit board members, CEOs, and executives – in the governance arena is urgent. Experience has taught us that many if not most transit board members arrive at the boardroom lacking the knowledge and skills to govern well, and that having to spend a year or more learning the governing ropes comes at a steep price in terms of reduced board effectiveness. We have also learned that many if not most transit CEOs arrive at the top spot in their authority ill-prepared to build and maintain the kind of close, positive, productive, and enduring partnership with their board that is absolutely essential for truly high-impact governing. And even seasoned transit CEOs have, we’ve learned, a tremendously difficult time keeping up with advances in the rapidly evolving public governing arena.
Our book is about the detailed governing work that high-performing public transit boards do and about the board-chief executive officer partnership that is at the heart of what we call “high-impact” governing: important decisions and judgments that make a significant difference in the affairs of your transit authority. Our aim is to provide transit board members, chief executive officers and executive team members with detailed, practical, thoroughly tested guidance that they can put to immediate use in strengthening their board’s governing capacity and building a really solid board-CEO partnership that can withstand the inevitable stresses and strains at the top of all transit authorities. Our book is not a theoretical work. The wisdom we share is based on our accumulated 50-some years of hands-on work in the public transit governance arena, not on merely a survey of academic literature.