2013 Leadership Summit

On Octo­ber 24th, 2013, Lon­er­gan Part­ners held its third annu­al net­work­ing sum­mit of pub­lic com­pa­ny CEOs in the Sil­i­con Valley. 

The goal was to talk can­did­ly about the rela­tion­ship between the board and man­age­ment, in par­tic­u­lar between the Chair­man and the CEO

Topics

  • cor­po­rate strat­e­gy formation
  • goal-set­ting
  • board/​management evaluations
  • a dis­cus­sion on board composition

The event was mod­er­at­ed by two expe­ri­enced tech­nol­o­gy Chair­man, Bill Krause and Craig Con­way. With over a dozen tech­nol­o­gy com­pa­ny CEOs in atten­dance, the dis­cus­sion was ani­mat­ed and wide-ranging.

Key Take-aways

  • All of the CEOs in atten­dance agreed that they would rather have an aggressive/​supportive board than a more pas­sive board. When a pub­lic com­pa­ny board becomes pas­sive and timid, the com­pa­ny suf­fers as a result.
  • The role of the Chair­man of the Board has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly over time. Pub­lic com­pa­ny board chair­man are the prin­ci­pal con­duit between the board and the CEO/​senior man­age­ment team. The pair­ing of the right Chair­man with the right CEO is essen­tial to success.
  • The key to a Chairman’s role is com­mu­ni­ca­tion and feed­back. The best Chair­men com­mu­ni­cate reg­u­lar­ly with the CEO.
  • Boards need to decide just how deeply they want to under­stand and work with oper­a­tional issues. All the CEOs at the event agreed that it is the CEO’s job to run the com­pa­ny and the board’s job to ensure that the com­pa­ny is on the right track.
  • The best Chair­men work very hard on direc­tor recruit­ing and retain­ing real con­trib­u­tors on the board.
  • The best Chair­men also remove non-con­trib­u­tors from the board. They do this in a thought­ful and pro­fes­sion­al way, but they get it done.
  • When done well, CEO assess­ments are con­duct­ed quar­ter­ly by the Chair­man or Lead Inde­pen­dent Direc­tor (LID).
  • Assess­ing CEO per­for­mance and pro­vid­ing feed­back is often very dif­fi­cult for the board. The worst of these inter­ac­tions can feel per­func­to­ry, offer­ing the CEO insuf­fi­cient feed­back in order to make course cor­rec­tions. CEOs pre­fer their boards pro­vide con­stant and frank feed­back that can be act­ed upon.

Moderators

Bill Krause
Retired Chair­man & CEO, 3COM

Craig Con­way
For­mer CEO, Peoplesoft