Some CEOs and boards have close, trusting partnerships that serve them and their firms extremely well. They are, in my experience, the minority.
Most CEOs 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.
Bob Vanourek is co-author of (with his son, Gregg Vanourek) Triple Crown Leadership: Building Excellent, Ethical, and Enduring Organizations, a winner of the International Book Awards. 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.