Complete Story


The Smart Way for a CEO to Shape a Board

Practice care and diplomacy

Association CEOs occupy an unusual perch. They serve at the pleasure of the board, but the board is often made up of people the CEO knows well and may even have directly recommended. This is not an inherent ethical problem: After all, CEOs are often best-positioned to understand the association’s strategic goals and the people in its membership who are equipped to help meet them. But CEOs also want to avoid the perception of being self-serving and having an undue influence on the nominating process.

I explored this dynamic—the “delicate dance,” as one CEO put it—in a feature in the latest issue of Associations Now. One take-away from the conversations I had with execs is that there’s a need to ensure that recommendations that CEOs make be clearly framed around the strategic goals of the organization. One way to do that is recommended in the book Recruit the Right Board by William A. Brown and Mark Engle, FASAE, CAE. There, the two recommend shifting away from a traditional nominating committee that tends to focus on filling the year’s open board seats and a more future-focused “leadership development committee” that thinks about grooming volunteer leaders for the long run.

More commonly, though, the executive staff has to work by feel to establish a boundary between having input on board composition and manipulating it. According to an ASAE survey, more than half (51 percent) of respondents said executive staff had a lot or a great deal of input on board candidates, and 22 percent of respondents say they had a great deal of input on interviewing those candidates. Clearly leaders are comfortable having a hand in the process. But how much of one?

Please select this link to read the complete article by Associations Now.

Printer-Friendly Version