The crucial role of CEOs in board effectiveness
The writer

The crucial role of CEOs in board effectiveness

When we talk about a company's success, a lot of the spotlight falls on the CEO. Rightly so, because the CEO plays a monumental role, not just in running the company, but also in how effective the Board of Directors is. Let's break down this big job into digestible, everyday language.


1.    The bridge builder: CEO as the link between the board and the company

Think of the CEO as a bridge. On one side, you have the Board of Directors, and on the other side, there's the entire company.

The CEO's job is to connect these two, making sure information, concerns, and strategies flow smoothly both ways.

A great CEO keeps the board in the loop about what's happening on the ground and brings the board's vision and decisions back to the team.

2. Translator: Making complex stuff understandable

CEOs often deal with complex stuff - market trends, financial data, operational challenges, you name it.

One of their key roles is to break down this complexity and present it to the board in a way that's easy to understand.

It's like translating a foreign movie into your language — the essence needs to come through clearly.

3. The strategist: Guiding the board's focus

A CEO doesn't just passively follow the board's lead. They actively guide the board's focus towards what really matters for the company's success.

This might mean highlighting new market opportunities, warning about emerging risks, or suggesting changes in strategy. It's a bit like being a tour guide, showing the board the sights they need to see.

4. The reality checker: Bringing practical insights to the table

Sometimes, boards can get caught up in high-level thinking and lose touch with the day-to-day realities of the business.

The CEO brings the voice of practical, on-the-ground experience to board discussions, ensuring that decisions are not just theoretically sound but also practically feasible.

5. The culture champion: Reflecting and shaping company culture

The CEO is the flag-bearer of the company's culture. They reflect this culture in their interactions with the board and also use the board's input to shape and evolve this culture.

It's a two-way street – the CEO influences the company culture based on the board's values and vice versa.

6. The relationship builder: Fostering trust with the board

Trust between the CEO and the board is essential. The CEO must work to build and maintain this trust through transparency, honest communication, and reliability. It's like any relationship – it takes work and openness to build trust.

7. The innovator: encouraging forward thinking

A good CEO doesn't just manage the present; they're always looking to the future. They encourage the board to think ahead and consider innovative ideas, new technologies, and future trends.

This is crucial in keeping the company competitive and forward-thinking.

8. The problem solver: Addressing challenges head-on

When problems arise, the CEO is often the first to tackle them. They bring these challenges to the board's attention, along with potential solutions, turning problems into opportunities for improvement.

It's like being a handyman – fixing issues before they become bigger problems.

9. The talent advocate: Ensuring the right team is in place

The CEO plays a key role in building and maintaining a strong leadership team. They often work with the board to identify and nurture top talent within the organization.

It's about having the right players on the field to win the game.

10. The communicator: Keeping everyone in the loop

Effective communication is a critical part of the CEO's role. They ensure that the board's decisions, expectations, and concerns are clearly communicated to the management team and the rest of the company.

Similarly, they convey the company's achievements, challenges, and feedback to the board.


In summary, the CEO is a lot more than just the head of a company. They're a bridge, a translator, a strategist, a reality checker, a culture champion, a relationship builder, an innovator, a problem solver, a talent advocate, and a communicator – all rolled into one. Their role in making the board effective is as complex as it is crucial.

A great CEO doesn’t just run a company; they shape its destiny. They do this not in isolation but in constant, dynamic interaction with the Board of Directors.

The effectiveness of this relationship is fundamental to the success of the company. When the CEO and the board work well together, it's like a well-rehearsed orchestra - each playing their part to create something truly exceptional..

The writer is a member of the Institute of Directors, Ghana and serves on a number of boards. He is an independent Internal Audit Advisor, Enterprise Risk Management Consultant, Board Consultant, and professional trainer. He is the founder and Chief Operating Officer of Redric Consulting, your trusted partner for comprehensive training and consulting services in the fields of Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). With a proven track record in Board Consulting, Internal Audit, Internal Control, Compliance, Fraud Risk Management, and Cybersecurity, Redric Consulting empowers your organization and ensures its success.

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