How does a CEO turn down advice about operations from the board?
By: Eugene Fram
With difficulty! It all depends on the kind of culture that has been established on the board. Ideally the CEO should be comfortable saying, “Thank you for your suggestions. I have considered them, but I feel these matters should be handled differently.”
For example, on one board on which I served, the board wanted the president/CEO to employ a COO because the CEO traveled a great deal, and many board members felt he needed more internal help. The CEO was an excellent entrepreneurial type person who conscientiously felt that budget constraints precluded employing a COO. It took about four years of negotiation to motivate him to make the change, which turned out to be a highly successful one. In this case, a culture of mutual trust was present so that the board accepted his rationale for not engaging a COO for such a long period.
What this example from the field showed is a trusting relationship, where the board did not overrule the CEO, nor attempt to micromanage him. It also showed a peer relationship between the board and the CEO. It is one that needs to be more the norm for nonprofit organizations
What some nonprofit board members and CEOs tend to forget is that many nonprofit mangers have more management experience than board members
with business backgrounds, and certainly more than many board members in professional positions, such as medical professionals and professors!
Source: Policy vs. Paper Clips, Third Edition, 2011 pp. 226-227. Available on Amazon.