Book Review: The Board and the CEO by Peter Greer and David Weekley

This is a review of The Board and the CEO, a book published in 2017 by Peter Greer and David Weekley. In this book, Greer and Weekley look at seven practices to protect your organization’s most important relationship - the relationship with the board and the CEO. This short read, just over 100 pages, stems from extensive research and experience in the nonprofit world from these authors.

This book, and its findings, emerged after an experience that Peter Greer had in a learning experience with other faith-based nonprofit leaders. As these leaders talked about the greatest challenges facing their organizations, Peter admits that “one after another, leaders shared that their greatest difficulty [was] related to some aspect of their relationship with the board.”[1] Those leaders, and the authors of this book,  quickly identified that this Board and CEO relationship was exceptionally challenging - and perhaps more than anything else in the organization - was “a proverbial minefield, with the potential to sabotage an organization: creating dissension, thwarting progress, undermining impact, and knocking it off mission.”[2] Greer, researching for another book on what causes the most mission drift in organizations, continued to find that “at the center of…organizational drift is often an unstable board-CEO relationship.”[3] Time and time again they saw “too many organizations drift, self-destruct, or shut down as a direct result of missteps in this key relationship.”[4] This book is meant to help encourage and equip organizations to remain on mission, by understanding how to navigate the board-CEO relationship.[5]

I wish I would have read this book about a decade ago. For about seven years, I worked in a context that did not have a simple, effective and shared understanding of the way that a board carries the responsibility to steward the mission and the healthy conflict of an organization. As a board, we did not have the capacity to analyze what sort of personalities make a good and effective board; nor did the board understand its role in communication, accountability and the facilitation of healthy conflict. Many boards are full of good people, but do not have the right mix, or a simple, effective and shared understanding of the way they are responsible  to steward the mission and conflict of an organization. I, too, did not know how to engage the distraught board structure that I inherited in truly effective and transformative ways. In efforts of clarity, our board certainly tried to further clarify responsibilities of the CEO/Leader and the Board in the bylaws and other organizational documents, but without shared ownership through practice, the relationship between the CEO and the Board are vulnerable. I believe this book would have created a shared understanding and effectively transformed our working relationship.

Certainly, over the years, I had read many books on the effective culture, governance and structuring of boards. In all my previous studies, never have I encountered the well thought out - and simply applicable advice - that is given in this book, The Board and the CEO by Peter Greer and David Weekley. This book clearly and practically outlines a simple, effective, and shared understanding of the way a board carries the responsibility to steward the mission and conflict of an organization, and it outlines the way the CEO works within the board and the system to carry out those discernments. This book will undoubtedly help the board to steward it’s irreplaceable role to identify, clarify, and remain focused on the organizational mission.”[6] In identifying, clarify, and remaining focused on the organizational mission the CEO will be freed up for the responsibility of implementing the mission.[7] For this reason I highly recommend this book.

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Highlights & Quotes


[1] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 15.

[2] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 15.

[3] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 18.

[4] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 18.

[5] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 18.

[6] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 35.

[7] Peter Greer and David Weekley, The Board and the CEO (Scotts Valley, CA: Create Space, 2017), 37

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