Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Timely Tool for CEOs and Boards of Directors - "How To Manage Your Board While Your Board Manages You" by Martin M. Coyne II

I was recently introduced to Marty Coyne by a mutual friend. When I learned of the work that he does with CEOs and Boards of Directors, I knew that I needed to read his new book. This slim volume is worth its weight in gold for CEOs and for the men and women who sit in governance on corporate boards. Coyne, speaking from his own deep well of experience as a member of several corporate boards, offers very practical and sensible advice to CEOs about how to forge positive relationships with their boards, committees and individual board members. The book's subtitle says it all: "A Practical Guide to Working Effectively With a Board For Both New and Experienced CEOs."

The first part of the book lays out the proper role of a corporate board and the committees that comprise the board in terms of governance and responsibility to shareholders. The last section offers a blueprint for the CEO in terms of how she can develop a successful plan for working with the board. There are several appendices that encourage the CEO to personalize the 5 fundamental principles that Coyne has presented.

Those principles are:

1) Understand your board's focus and expectations.

2) Provide timely, accurate, and relevant information to your directors.

3) Establish effective two-way communication with your board and individual directors.

4) Develop a robust, continual personal assessment and feedback process.

5) Use continual change as an opportunity to enhance your board relationship.

I found chapter 10 to be particularly valuable. Drawing from his own observations of working boards, Coyne outlines the key issues that most often lead to tensions between a CEO and his board. That chapter alone would make this book a valuable tool for any CEO - newly-minted or battle-scarred. The book is also useful for board members in helping them to see the board of directors' role through the eyes of the CEO.



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