On September 16, 2010, Lonergan Partners and the Silicon Valley Chapter of the National Association of Corporate Directors hosted a panel discussion entitled “Chairmen Speak about Board Performance.” The event was moderated by Mark Lonergan, Vice President of SVNACD.
Key Insights from the Panelists
Board performance must be managed and improved at two levels—that of the individual board director and that of the board as a whole. Now more than ever managing the composition and responsibilities of board directors is critical to success. The effective board chairman must act as a consensus builder, in order to shape one unified vision of the board’s input to the CEO. It is not in the best interest of the company for board members to offer contradictory opinions to the CEO. The effective board gets to know senior management beyond the CEO level, engaging with them on real issues they face. Their objective should be to offer management advice tailored to the current situation, not just “war stories” of how they handled challenges in the past. Board culture is changing to be more performance driven. While the culture of public boards was cited in Lonergan Partners research as an impediment to improving the performance of boards, the chairmen on the panel observed that the culture of public company boards has evolved post Sarbanes-Oxley to more closely resemble private boards of key investors—perceived to have a deep personal commitment to the success of the company. The focus on public company board performance is increasing and boards will continue to be in the spotlight for some time to come, making the job of the board director more challenging.
Flip Gianos Chairman, Xilinx
Charles ‘Chuck’ Robel Chairman, McAfee
John Shoven Chairman, Cadence