How does a president/CEO turn down advice about operations or internal structure from the board – Update & Reissue

How does a president/CEO turn down advice about operations or internal structure from the board.

by Eugene Fram

With difficulty. It all depends on the type of culture that has been established by the board. Ideally, the president/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 extensively and many board members felt he needed more internal help. The CEO was an entrepreneurial type who conscientiously felt that the budget approved by him and the board precluded employing a COO. It took about four years to motivate him to make this internal change. It turned out to be a highly successful one. In this instance, a culture of mutual trust was present so that the board accepted his rationale for such a long time period. The president/CEO was a highly effective development person who helped to build the bond with the board. However, one can question whether or not the organization missed some opportunities by not having a COO in place four years earlier. Budget was an issue, but an effective COO, who was appointed was able to help increase revenues.

Source: Eugene Fram with Vicki Brown, Policy vs. Paper Clips, Third Edition, 2011, pp. 226-227.

See Also:Eugene Fram, “The Special Relationship Nurturing the CEO-Board Chair Bond,” Nonprofit World, November/December 2011, pp.8-9.

Eugene Fram, “What’s in a Name? Benefits of the President/CEO Title,” Nonprofit Director, Alliance for Children & Families website, May 24 2010.


  1. “a culture of mutual trust and process” The charge of a CEO or E.D. is to lead the organization to it’s short and long-term goals. Smart boards develop strategic plans, project mile stones, and evaluation measurements to ensure leadership’s ability and skill set to reach success.Sound structure needs to be in place to effectively manage unplanned turns, Policy & Process gives board, leadership, staff and donors the mechanics to do just that. Without such framework all are driving blind.


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