Saturday, April 12, 2014

James Kristie for Directorship 100

It gives me great pleasure to nominate for the 2014 NACD Directorship 100:

James Kristie, editor and associate publisher of Directors & Boards, a quarterly published journal, and e-Briefing, a monthly online newsletter, covering high-level leadership, governance, finance, legal, and strategic issues.

Mr. Kristie has been editor since 1981, and associate publisher since 1991.

As editor of the nation’s longest-running and most esteemed publication in the corporate governance field, he has regularly charted the significant historical record of corporate governance, has been a leader in highlighting the contributions of “unsung” directors including women directors as authors of insightful articles and opinions, has tracked the quarterly growth in the number of new directors from all constituencies, and has innovated in thought leadership about issues of importance to the entire corporate governance community.

Most recently, he has hosted the Private Corporate Governance Summit, annually bringing together directors, owners, and advisors of family-owned, closely-held and private-equity owned businesses of all sizes to discuss shared governance concerns.

During this tenure, Mr. Kristie served as coordinating editor of Corporate Restructuring: A Guide to Creating the Premium-Valued Company, published in l989 by McGraw-Hill Book Co.

Prior to becoming editor of Directors & Boards, he was managing editor of a weekly business magazine for the Philadelphia metropolitan area (1979-1981), editor of a regional media industry trade newspaper (1977-1979), and associate editor of publications for a regional supermarket chain (1976-1977).

Mr. Kristie received a B.A. in Journalism summa cum laude from Temple University in Philadelphia (1976), and served in the U.S. Navy from 1968-1972.

He served for five years as an adjunct instructor at Temple University's School of Media and Communications, teaching the course "Advanced Public Relations Writing."

He appears frequently before governance conferences and meetings, and is regularly quoted in the major media and specialized publications as an authoritative source on leadership issues.

Individual nominations to support Mr.Kristie's inclusion in the NACD Directorship 100 recognition may be submitted as follows:

Nomination form:

Nominee information:
Mr. James Kristie
Editor and Associate Publisher
Directors & Boards
Category: Journalists

Award criteria for induction into the 2014 Directorship 100:

Thank you for your support of my nomination of Mr. Kristie for this outstanding recognition.

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Leap to Leadership

On the supply side of candidacy for a board role, what do you need to know? What do you need to be? What is relevant experience?

The biggest mistake candidates make, in thinking they are ready for a board role, is to assume that the skills and talent that elevated them among the rank and file of the organization are the same competencies suitable for advancement to a director's position.  What got you to the middle will not get you to the top.

There is a reason for a board. It is called oversight - it is not management. It is strategic leadership. It is the gyroscope function, not the helmsman. It's the producer, not the actor. It requires a transformation of your mental state from a focus on today and now to tomorrow and how.

How can an individual acquire those leadership competencies? How can a talented  individual contributor become a valuable resource worthy of a board role? Clearly, the answer does not lie in simply taking a leadership course or reading a leadership book.  The answer does rest in the accumulation of practical experiences on the hot seat as a leader, decision-maker, making the tough real world operational choices that only the person in charge can make.

One of the first things I advise talented women executives to do is "look up!" When I ask women to tell me if they have a woman on their company boards, I am astounded by the number who respond, "I don't know who is on our board."  Make the minimal effort to learn about the people who are guiding your own corporate future.  Where to start? Read the annual report to shareholders. Read the proxy statement. Learn their biographies, experience, committee assignments, and any speeches they might have made.  Know who is on your board and the competencies that got them there.

Today, a favorite topic of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) is "asymmetrical information risk." They describe that as the risk associated with management knowing more than the directors, but the greater risk is the disconnect between the leadership potential within the company and the board's strategic needs. It is a dysfunctional two way communication gap. Directors know too little about the bench strength they need to develop while internal corporate managers are too focused on their separate and distinct silos of expertise to build the network of strengths required of  a cohesive team.

It is not enough that the board pursue new director candidates who could enhance their collective silo expertise. It is far more important that the potential candidates within the firm develop their own top level perspectives.  What does management talent need to do, themselves, to learn about leadership?

Board-interested candidates need to branch out beyond resting on their laurels as an "expert" in their chosen field. They need to acquire a board perspective.  Some things that will help:

Know the company strategies: short and long term. How does the company reveal those strategies? Listen to analyst calls to learn the challenges your board is facing from shareholders and investors. How is the board responding to those challenges?

Review the company risk assessments in proxy statements and In priorities discussed by leadership. Do these come across as merely legalese to cover all contingencies or are they substantive caution signs?

Review the company's board committee charters. What are the important cross sector issues they are trying to address? Does your area of expertise interface with any board committee? Are there opportunities to talk with board members about their priority issues? Does the committee reach into the organization to solicit you input or does the board only tap outside consultants?

Do you reach beyond your own area of expertise in the company to collaborate with  complementary areas in the firm? Do you make yourself available to address new challenges that the company is facing? Do not leapfrog you boss, but rather work with upper levels of management. Seek out leadership opportunities to take the reins of profit centers in the firm or at professional associations valued by you company.

Update your resume annually, at the new year, in spring, or on your birthday. Seek out board-level coaches to select those facets of your job-oriented resume that would be appropriate for a board-level biography.  Be sure you know the difference between the two.

Does your firm have a leadership development strategy? Ae you considered part of that potential? Do you know your financial worth in the company and in your profession?  Where do you exercise leadership skills? Do you know how effective groups make decisions? How they make tough financial trade-offs? How do you know if your leaders are succeeding? How do you measure their performance?

Making that leap from manager to leader is what will make you interesting and valuable to a potential board of directors with whom you might one day serve. It most certainly is not an entitlement. It is something to be earned.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Seizing a Leadership Role

The March 2014 issue of T+D Magazine (Training + Development) highlighted the admonition, “Women, Seize Your Leadership Role.” Articles inside focused on what women have done and can do to rise to leadership opportunities.  My eye was caught by the infograph entitled “Women in the Workplace,” based on research from the Pew Research Center. 

Two items were especially interesting: one describing the improvement in “Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s (among 25 to 24 year olds). The chart showed significant progress from 1980 (blue bar in the chart to the right) through 2000 (orange bar) through to 2012 (the gray bar).  That jump in the last bar, showing 2012 data, was a huge leap to a 93% parity with men’s earnings at the entry levels. 

Even more impressive are the results concerning whether or not women (or men) aspire to leadership roles.  In the past, only 21% of women Baby Boomers (compared to 32% of men), as shown by the blue bar in the chart below, stated that “they would like to be a top manager or boss someday,” as indicated in the blue bar of the chart below. Baby Boomers, today are between the ages of 50 and 68 (having been born between 1946 and 1964).  If we wonder why less than 20% of board seats or top CEO positions are held by women, the lack of aspirations favoring leadership among women in this cohort may be a contributing factor.

Generation-Xers, as shown by the orange bar of the chart below, showed significantly more interest in leadership.  Among women Gen-X-ers, 41% stated (vs 58% of men) they aspired to top roles. Gen-Xers are those born between early 1960s and early 1980s. Today (2014), Gen-Xers are between 34 and 54 year of age, just considering top leadership opportunities.  At least a significant percentage are open to the possibility of their taking on leadership roles.

The biggest change is for Millennials.  Among women Millennials, a resounding 61% (vs. 70% of men) stated they aspired to be a top manager or a boss someday as indicated by the gray bar in the chart above. Millennials were born roughly between the early 1980s and the early 2000s. Clearly, they are today’s youth, aged around 14 to 34 years. The fact that they are considering leadership as a possibility for their career certainly is impressive and indicative of social and cultural change at its best.