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Are your board members as valuable as you?

Perhaps this is the natural conclusion from the several insights previously explored.

While the CEO and management offer the vision, strategies, and tactics as well as the proposed budget, it is the board that controls with its votes the execution of strategy, the expenditure of cash, the taking on of debt or new equity, the very direction of the company as well as its ultimate health. Surprised?

Then who is most important?

The most important person in a corporation usually is and should be the CEO. This person, often the founder in early-stage companies and beyond, is the originator and keeper of the vision, leading all others below and the board above as willing believers in the vision advanced.  But the board is responsible for providing resources to fulfill that vision, which may include new cash infusion or assumption of new debt.  

Does this ever happen?

Yes, but… In extreme situations, it is the board that must step up and replace the CEO, assuming the responsibility for finding and integrating a new leader quickly and efficiently.  Sometimes this means having a board member step in for a short time as CEO for continuity.

A true story…

[Email readers, continue here…]    One of the CEOs in a round-table who had been active and vibrant for years in both his company and the round-table, died suddenly of a heart attack.  His board met in emergency session and managed a smooth transition to a new leader within a month, during the most traumatic of times for all employees and the board itself.

Remember the most important duties of a board member?

For non-profit boards, the two most important duties under the duty of loyalty and care are the oversight and eventual replacement of the CEO, and maintenance of the entity over its infinitely long lifetime.  I have been a member and even chair of presidential search committees and can attest that board members (and other designated stakeholders) spend hundreds of hours in the recruiting process, all without pay.

It’s all about continuity of the organization.

It is because the continuity provided by the board is the one thing shareholders must count on above all else to protect investment, that the board rises in importance to at least equal stature as the executive cohort.

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