Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Conscious Governance, Nonprofit Strategic Planning for CEO's, Executives, and Nonprofit Boards.

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Ezine, Issue #002 Board Chair and CEO working together productively

Conscious Chief Executives E-zine - Issue #02

Board Chair and CEO Working Together Productively

Steven Bowman
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The relationship between the nonprofit Board Chair and the CEO is arguably the most important relationship in the organization. There have been many instances, both public and anecdotal, where this relationship has broken down, usually with either the CEO resigning (literally or “euphemistically”), or the Chair resigning or not being re-elected. Our experience is usually the nonprofit CEO suffers the fallout. In turn, this whole issue can be debilitating for the organization, its reputation, and the loss of focus at a strategic and operational level.

As both a Board Chair and also as a CEO, I have found the best advice given to me was by Bob Joss, CEO of Westpac Bank and Chair of my Board of the Australasian Institute of Banking and Finance, now Dean at Stanford University. When asked what the relationship should be between the Chair and CEO (he was Chair, I was CEO), he replied "It really is very easy, Steve. It is a relationship with only one rule…No surprises……because that will only ever happen once."

This translates into four pieces of very practical advice.

1. Questions to ask

Ensure when the Chair first takes the position, that you as CEO and the Chair have a discussion about how it would best work for both of you. Be willing, as the CEO, to ask questions of the Chair regarding their personal expectations of the position.

Some questions to ask of the new Chair might include:

• What do you require from this position as Chair?
• What does the Chair position require of you as a person?
• What do you require from me as CEO?
• From your point of view as a Chair, what do I as CEO require of you as Chair?

All these questions should be addressed by the Chair. These questions facilitate the Chair to perceive the responsibilities and possibilities of the Chair position from various points of view.

2. Surprises

Ensure the Chair is the one you first go to with any potential "surprises". This might be in the form of a call from the media, a potential issue with constituents or a change in strategic assumptions.

3. Board agenda briefings

Ensure you brief the Chair on any potential surprises and issues in the agenda of each Board meeting, prior to the meeting. It is usually the CEO or company secretary that develops the agenda, but it should be the Chairman who signs off on the agenda, and it should go out under the Chairs signature. In the end, it is the Chairs responsibility. You should also advise the Chair of any potential conflicts of interest likely to arise during the Board meeting, and options for dealing with them.

For those Chairs that are not used to dealing with conflict of interest, I have provided a useful checklist that might prove useful for the first three or four meetings, until the Chair is comfortable delaing with these types of issues.

The Conflict of Interest checklist can be found here >>>>

4. Governance subcommittee

Develop a Governance (or CEO/Board Evaluation) subcommittee of the Board. It is common for the Chair to be on this subcommittee, and quite often they Chair this subcommittee as well. This subcommittee is responsible for both the Board and CEO succession planning, performance management, and evaluation. One of the most common reasons CEOs lose their job is when they have a disagreement (which they may not even be fully aware of)with the Board Chairman, or lose the confidence of the Board. This Board subcommittee is primarily charged with dealing with these issues. These responsibilities should not be vested in the Chair alone.

An example of a Sample Charter for this subcommittee of the Board can be found here >>>>

A short article on Succession Planning for the CEO position, one of the key responsibilities of the Governance subcommittee can be found here >>>>

Click here >>>> to download a short audio .mp3 program on how the conscious CEO can further improve their relationship with the Chair (2.65Mb, .mp3). This can be used as part of the induction program for new Board members, and for new Chairs. 

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Previous Issues Topics

Issue #001 -- When Board members step over the line

Click here for links to back issues

Next Issue Topic

Next issue will focus on nonprofit Board remuneration (should we, shouldn't we, and why), a very emotive topic that has arisen more frequently in the past few months. (Mind you, I might change the topic if something even more topical comes in. Let me know what you would like to see!)

Please send us any of your feedback, or any questions that you might like to see in the e-zine. All communications are confidential.
Happy reading
Steven Bowman

Contact Us

Contact us if you would like more information on any of the following:

Board and Governance audit and review Our Strategic Governance review is a comprehensive independent review of Board processes, including Board strategic processes, Board structure, Board and stakeholder communication, Board compliance responsibilities and strategic operational issues that directly affect the governance of your organization.

Strategic Planning facilitation Our Strategic Planning process encapsulates the most robust, time-efficient planning techniques to provide a focused, vision driven strategic plan, with value added components that embed the strategic plan into the Governance and operational framework of the organization. Powerful success measures, a unique ethics filter, strategic reporting frameworks and strategic thinking processes are end results of our Strategic Planning process.

Strategic Plan annual review facilitation Is your strategic plan on track? Our strategic plan review facilitation provides a focused forum for reviewing your existing strategic plan, with four key questions explored?1. What has worked with our strategic plan 2. What has not worked with our strategic plan 3. What has changed in our environment 4. What do we need to add or take out of our strategic plan

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