How Do You Align the Top Three CEO Performance Gaps with Board Responsibilities?

intentional practices roles and responsibilities the board/ceo partnership Feb 20, 2024
How Do You Align The Top Three CEO Performance Gaps with Board Responsibilities?


Is it possible that the weakest areas of Chief Executive Officer or Executive Director performance could be Board responsibilities? Could it also be that your backgrounds and expertise are not being used appropriately? Are you responsible for the three main performance gaps? Probably.

So how are CEOs actually performing? What issues are they struggling with, and what can be done to help them perform at their highest level? These are some of the questions that the McKinsey Center for CEO Excellence (MCCE) seeks to answer.


Their new CEO Excellence Assessment Tool is a compact self-assessment centered on six dimensions of leadership illustrated below.

In a preliminary report this month McKinsey reports the findings from more than 100 CEOs across 17 major industries.

Now, to be clear: we are talking about CEOs in the for-profit world, centered mainly in Asia. But… their findings resonate with my own studies and experience in the not-for-profit world.


How so?

The most common CEO challenges in this study are

  • engaging the board,
  • allocating resources, and
  • connecting with stakeholders.


Let’s disaggregate the scores a bit more, however.


The most common specific CEO challenges are:

  • using the expertise of Board members for growth and development;
  • reallocating resources from less successful or lower priority programs and services
  • engaging significant stakeholders.

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And where does this leave you as a Board members?


What mechanisms do you have in place to identify and amplify your strengths and experiences? How do you enable the CEO or ED to connect with you individually and collectively without seeming “weak” or incapable? This could be through an in-camera board discussion or as a component of an annual review.


What are your Key Success Factors and how do these both enable and support the discontinuance of programs and services that are no longer needed or as important as they once were? How do you support the CEO against the onslaught from the newly mustered supporters of the diminishing number of loyal users? When did you discuss what programs and services have ever been discontinued and based on what criteria?


Lastly, the Board is ultimately responsible for funder, donor and government relations. How do you work with the Chief Executive Officer? How do you report back to the Board and discuss communications and engagement?


These primary gaps in performance in the not-for-profit world are shared with the Board. At the very least they need to be identified and discussed.


One might hope that any supportive action would lead to an enhanced Board/CEO partnership.


McKinsey and Company supports businesses and leaders across sectors including major employers, public-sector institutions, and not-for-profits on their toughest challenges, serving clients in more than 65 countries. They also publish research such as this study, that enhances understanding and informs action.


What are your main “pain points” dealing with Board/CEO relations?

What advice would be most helpful to you?
And we always assume that you are asking for a friend!


Get in touch. We’ll address your questions and concerns in an upcoming blog post.




Take Responsibility

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P.S. May I ask a tiny favour? Would you mind sharing this blog with one person? I would love it. You can post the links in your Facebook Groups, LinkedIn or even send an email.

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