Case Study

Establishing a Good Relationship Between the CEO and the Board

Business type – State Owned Enterprise


Names omitted for client confidentiality


The client was the CEO of a State Owned Enterprise.  Her challenge was to build a good working relationship with her Board.  Some of the issues to be addressed were the fact that the present board chair had previously held the CEO’s post, and as in many SOE, there were political imperatives which were not necessarily explicit, but which certainly influenced the behaviour of board members. From the CEO’s perspective, the current situation was that the board appeared to be more comfortable ‘meddling’ in operational issues, rather than taking a longer term strategic view

Coaching goal

Assist the CEO to establish a good relationship with the board to get the best value from them in terms of strategy and governance.



Finding better ways to keep the board members informed, for example, not producing voluminous files of board papers which many did not read. The intention was to build awareness among board members, not overwhelm them with unnecessary detail. This was supported by being sure to report positively, accentuating successes rather than merely dwelling on problems.


Putting mechanisms were in place to encourage the board to give feedback to the exco as a whole, and exco members were invited to witness board meetings.

Coaching outcome

One of the first actions the CEO undertook was to spend more time with the Chair to strengthen their relationship, but also give the Chair the reassurance he appeared to need since his mind was still very much operationally orientated.

A degree of success was achieved, although it became apparent that the CEO could not shift the attitude of the Chair merely by changing her own approach. The Chair would probably have benefitted from a coach to help him in this regard, as the CEO concluded:

 “I feel that I have strengthened understanding between Exco and the Board, and recognise that I can only change my own attitude and behaviour and hope for the intended response. We have certainly become more aligned.”

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