Issue 14

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BoardWorks International
Issue 14, 2013

Getting the Chief Executive's Report Right

It is common for board members and executives alike to express dissatisfaction with board meetings. Among other things, they say that each meeting seems to pass without their board really connecting with the substance of its job.

The boards with this problem are often those that drive their meetings off a report from their chief executive. All chief executives should be expected to report to their boards but it is a question of how it is done. Here are some of the common issues when the chief executive's report dominates or distracts from the board's meeting.

These common shortcomings suggest that chief executives' reports often lack clarity of purpose and detract from, rather than support, the board's ability to do its job. However, these are not insurmountable problems. The value of the chief executive's report to the board can be increased in a number of ways. Note that, in some cases, these suggestions are alternatives rather than consistent parts of a total package.

This analysis has shown how chief executive reports can easily become problematical. If nothing else, boards and management, together, should regularly discuss what is expected from these reports.  Both should be aware that there is a high risk of time being taken up by matters not central to the board's role. In whatever form it takes, the chief executive's report must provide focus and stimulation for the type of value-adding discussion that is worthy of both board and chief executive.

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