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Building better board relationships: Focus on earning trust—not power

Transparency and properly defined roles keys to effective association governance


March 3, 2017
By William Ehart

It may be tempting for many CEOs to wish they had more influence over their boards—perhaps to the extent of choosing who’s on them—or that volunteer leaders would simply get out of their way.

But experts say association success is not a function of the CEO’s sway with the board, and that attempts to exert too much influence are fraught with risk. And a disengaged board can be just as hazardous to the CEO’s job security.

The key to effective organizations, they say, is clearly defined roles for both parties and trust—which must be earned by the CEO.

Anne Wallestad, CEO of BoardSource—a nonprofit organization that provides educational resources (much of them free at and consulting on good governance—said associations need to be in the sweet spot of not too much and not too little CEO sway with the board.