How CEO s and Boards Can Ensure Constructive Tension

How CEO s and Boards Can Ensure Constructive TensionIn an NACD webinar, Ken Daly, president of NACD, Kenneth Duberstein, lead director of the Boeing Company, director of  Conoco-Phillips and The Travelers  Companies and Stuart R. Levine, director of Broadridge Financial Solutions and lead director of J. D’addario & Company addressed the thorny issue of trust between the CEO and the board.

Using his example of his work as CEO of NACD, Daly demonstrated how important it is for CEOs to invite candid dialogue from the board. “Trust is built over time and developed through actions, not words. The way to develop trust is for the board and management to recognize that they are on the same team, that communication is straight-forward, two-way and “straight from the horse’s mouth.”  It’s also important to telegraph emerging issues.  Duberstein noted that management and boards are on the same team but have different roles—management is charged with execution and the board need to actively participate in strategy decisions and provide oversight for all shareholders by monitoring performance and asking the right questions.

Properly managing executive sessions and giving good feedback to the CEO was discussed. Levine, a best-selling business author, noted that the CEO of Broadridge has a practice of calling each board member prior to the meeting to get a sense of the board’s issues and concerns. “That way, we’re already engaged before the meeting.”

What the discussion among these leaders with broad experience emphasized was how important both boards and CEOs have to do to “get it right.”  The webinar provided valuable insight.