Triple Crown Leadership

Triple Crown Leadership

CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

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Bob Vanourek uses this picture of a handshake in front of a group of people to show the importance of a CEO trusting his or her board.


Some CEO’s and boards have close, trusting partnerships that serve them and their firms extremely well. They are, in my experience, the minority.

Most CEO’s I have met see the board as a group they need to “manage,” a dinner and meeting they need to prepare for, taking preciously valuable time away from running the business, which is the CEO’s real job. To many CEO’s, the board is tolerated, professionally and courteously of course, but a group relatively uninformed about how hard it is to really run the business.

The time spent preparing for board meetings is huge. Staff reports prepared; rehearsals of PowerPoint presentations; after-meeting meetings to decipher what the board now wants and what to do to get ready for the next session.

What’s the solution? A change in attitude involving trust.

Boards no longer merely monitor the activities of a CEO and a firm. They can and should lead certain functions for the firm from defining the desired culture to involvement in strategy development. They can be a sounding board for the CEO on the lonely, difficult decisions he or she sometimes faces, especially in a time of crisis.

But this mind-flipping attitude change can only be based on the board and CEO viewing each other as trusted allies.

CEO tip: Trust your board as your ally. By trusting them more, they will trust you more, and performance will improve.

Leadership speaker and author Bob Vanourek at one of his many speaking events.

Bob Vanourek is the former CEO of five firms from a start-up to a billion dollar NY stock exchange turnaround. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, and a popular leadership speaker. He is one of Trust Across America’s Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior.

Trust Inc. Book Cover. Leadership Speakers, Bob Vanourek and Gregg Vanourek recommend Trust, Inc., a new book of essays compiled by Barbara Kimmel.

This article is one of several Bob Vanourek wrote for Trust Inc., A Guide for Boards and C-Suites, published by Next Decade, Inc. 2014 and edited by Barbara Brooks Kimmel, Executive Director, Trust Across America – Trust Around the World.

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2 thoughts on “CEO Tip: Trust Your Board As Your Ally

  1. Speaking of board-assisted decisions, what do you think about including an HR representative to your board meetings? Are you pro or con? I think that they should also participate in discussions regarding the workforce since they can give other insights that the direct manager and thus creating a complex image on the matter.

  2. Thanks for your post and question, Raluca.
    I would not favor having an HR rep at board meetings since so many legal, strategy, and risk topics are on the agenda, much of which is highly sensitive. I do believe the CEO should periodically have the CHRO present to the board, and board members should have access to the CHRO as well as the CFO, General Counsel, and other officers.
    I recently presented on a panel to the Natl Assn of Corp Directors and offered some radical ideas for the board’s Comp Committee including changing its name (and responsibilities) to the Leadership Committee and expanding the scope and depth of its work. Email me at if you want me to send you the highlights.
    Thanks again.

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