Strategies for Effective CEO-Board Relationships

Feb 26, 2024 | Board Effectiveness, CEO Best Practices

CEOs must form strong relationships with board members to ensure maximum effectiveness and performance of these important roles.

There are several things CEOs can due to ensure transparency and optimal communication with their boards. Setting expectations and understanding goals can help. Read on to learn what you can do to promote a trusting relationship with your board members and achieve organizational success.

Understand Your Board’s Role in the Company

Companies may have different types of boards as follows:

  • Governing Board: A governing board provides guidance that ensures a company runs efficiently and reaches its goals.
  • Advisory Board: Advisory boards provide advice on company operations to help the business grow. They serve a similar function to the governing board, but they offer a more flexible management style.
  • Fundraising Board: A fundraising board will host events and create strategies to raise company funds that help it reach its goals.

A CEO must understand a board’s role in the company to learn its objectives and determine the best way to forge a trusting relationship.

Maintain a Relationship That Goes Beyond Board Meetings

CEOs should not limit their communication with board members to board meetings. They should communicate with board members frequently. They should share accomplishments, challenges, and important details as they arise.

Board meetings should be used to provide quarterly insights, share updates, and take votes as needed. But the crux of business issues should be handled on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

Set a Communications Schedule

CEOs can set expectations by working out a communications schedule and sharing it with board members. The schedule can include regular check-ins that may occur on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. Or they can let members know when they can expect to hear back regarding a pressing issue.

A communication schedule ensures board members aren’t left in the dark wondering when they will hear from you. It will make them feel more comfortable in the relationship. It also lets them know that you appreciate their input regarding new and ongoing developments.

Communicate Changes in Advance

Board members should be aware of changes that may affect expectations. For example, they may be used to getting quarterly reports but some years, you may only release three reports. Or you may need to change the board meeting due to a vacation or another matter.

It’s important to communicate changes as soon as possible. If you know you are going on vacation and won’t make it to the next board meeting, let members know right away. Keep them abreast of any scheduling changes. Avoid last-minute changes that can disrupt their schedule and affect their opinion of you.

Be Accountable for Your Errors

Mistakes happen. Even as a CEO, your first instinct may be to cover up mistakes. But if they are discovered later, you will regret your dishonestly.

CEOs must be open about their mistakes. They should explain how and why they happened. This level of accountability will gain board members’ trust and minimize the risk of something coming back to bite you later on.

Integrate Board Members in the Decision-Making Process

CEOs often make decisions on behalf of their company. They will build better relationships with board members by integrating them into the decision-making process.

Asking board members for their decisions will make them feel like their opinions are valued. Additionally, they will feel accountable for their decisions, and they will be more likely to back them long-term.

As a CEO, you may face challenges when integrating CEOs into the decision-making process. If you present them with too many options, you may seem uncertain. If you invite them to a brainstorming session, you may waste their time.

The best approach may be to share your decision and provide the rationale behind it. This strategy will let them know that you’ve given some thought to your decision and that it wasn’t made hastily.

You should also share your decisions before putting them in motion. Allow board members to weigh in before making anything final.

Want to learn more about building strong relationships and leading your teams? Sign up for the Chief Executives Council Newsletter to stay on top of the latest business trends.

Additional Board Resources

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