2013                                                                                                                Issue 15


BoardWorks International


Welcome to Issue 15 of Board Works



The selection of a new chief executive is one of the most important decisions any governing body makes and the stakes are very high for both board and chief executive. In 'Finding a Chief Executive who is a 'Real Leader' we share the observations and experience of one of the acknowledged leadership gurus, Warren Bennis. Among other things Bennis and his collaborator James O'Toole contended that boards often make poor choices of chief executive as a result of underlying board shortcomings and because they pay no heed to real leadership as the selection criterion.


It is fashionable (and not incorrect) to state that the buck stops with the board but I have heard many directors use this as an excuse to dive deep into operational detail. When this happens it is often at the expense of the only responsibility a board cannot delegate - that of understanding and representing the interests of owners. In an article called 'Distinguishing Owners From Customers' I attempt to differentiate the ownership perspective from the customer perspective and to outline how that distinction should translate into board work.


The final two articles in this issue deal with interrelated themes. The first concerns a problem we have seen many clients attempt to deal with over the years. In 'Avoiding the Overstayer Problem' I look at the issue of board members who have, arguably, remained on the board for too long. There are many dimensions to this but how to prevent the problem arising in the first place is the focus of this article.


The second focuses on the transition - when long serving board members are departing the board and taking with them a great deal of corporate memory and accumulated wisdom. In 'When Directors Retire - Addressing the Challenge of Transition and Continuity' I explore the desirability of acknowledging the value of this outgoing organisational asset and ensuring that the natural desire to change and 'move on' does not diminish the relevance of the past. I suggest some ways to tap into the valuable knowledge of outgoing board members.


Good reading



Graeme Nahkies






In This Issue
Finding a Chief Executive who is a 'Real Leader'
Distinguishing Owners from Customers
How to Avoid an 'Overstayer' Problem
When Directors Retire - Addressing the Challenge of Transition and Continuity
Article15AFinding a Chief Executive who is a 'Real Leader'


 I recently observed the unedifying spectacle of a board chair being openly disrespectful to her chief executive. This was at a board meeting in front of members of the senior management team, other staff, and an outsider, me. I wondered how this could happen not least because the situation involved a relatively recently appointed chief executive handpicked by the same chair. I was surprised that other board members let this happen.....



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Article15BDistinguishing Owners from Customers
  The New Zealand Government has begun selling minority stakes in a range of power generation companies that were previously fully Crown owned. It intends that most of the available shares should be sold to the public. For many who successfully bid for shares it will be their first direct shareholding in a publicly listed company. However, there is a problem with many new and inexperienced shareholders....  
Article15C  How to Avoid an 'Overstayer' Problem 
 Long serving board members are often well respected and well liked people acknowledged for past contributions. However, there are many reasons why they become perceived as 'overstayers' who are increasingly problematic.
Article15D When Directors Retire - Addressing the Challenge of Transition and Continuity

   I had been chairing a board for a number of years when I realised I lacked sufficient understanding of the background to an important stakeholder relationship. The relationship had been formalised well before my time but its current activation was inconsistent and it was under-performing its potential  


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