Perhaps the most surprising element of John Gillespie and David Zweig’s book, Money for Nothing, How the Failure of Corporate Boards Is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions is the jailhouse interview with Dennis Kozlowski, who considers himself a victim of the times and a weak board. The authors conclude that the Tyco board had faded into irrelevance compared to “the power, prestige, and satisfaction provided by the acquisitions” that Kozlowski engineered.
It’s clear that strong effective boards are in everyone’s interest. Directors who offer a strategic sounding board for management, and bring to bear their wisdom and experience as the company encounters challenges, are to be highly prized.
It will take more than just committed directors to improve corporate governance. CEOs, whether they hold the title of chairman or not, need to make the investments in effective boards. In addition to their personal commitment to make the relationship work, they need to provide the resources and support to help directors be effective.