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How to Repair a Broken CEO-Board Chair Relationship

By Mark Athitakis for Associations Now

When it comes to the relationship between an association CEO and the board chair, trust is critical. But what do you do when that trust is lacking?

Dr. M. Louise Walters, founder and CEO of the consultancy the Leadership Center, recently completed her PhD thesis research on CEO-board chair relations at 501(c)(6) business leagues [PDF]. In conversation with 10 CEOs, she found that four of them didn’t trust their board chair.

“Respondents said things like, ‘I don’t know how I can trust them because they don’t communicate with me’ or ‘They go around my back and do things that obligate the organization outside of what their purview really should be,’” Walters said.

That’s a problem, of course, because without trust it’s hard to make much in the way of progress. But what Walters also found in her interviewing is that the divide isn’t necessarily personal. A lack of trust between one chair and CEO can contribute to an air of distrust that lasts even after one chair’s term is over.

“Those kinds of relationships seem to carry over from year to year,” says Walters, who will share her findings at an ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo session, “Adversary or Trusted Partner? What CEOs Think About Their Board Chairs,” at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, August 22. “And when you’re in a cycle like that, it’s sometimes hard to break it. CEOs who wanted to make things more positive had a more difficult time doing that, and then accomplishing what they needed to accomplish in their organization as well.”  For more, click here.

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

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