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Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask

Owning Up: The 14 Questions Every Board Member Needs to Ask

by Ram Charan


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YOUR WORLD AS A DIRECTOR HAS SUDDENLY CHANGED. YOU’VE SEEN MEMBERS OF OTHER boards take the heat when their companies imploded. The managements of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, and Washington Mutual clearly failed, but so did their boards. Now the board of every company beset with problems is coming under scrutiny.

The pressure is on. Your board must own up to its accountability for the performance of the corporation. Governance now means leadership. Boards must change their modus operandi to address the new and complex issues that are emerging. These include


So what should boards do now? What should they be talking about in their meetings and executive sessions? What decisions must they make? How assertive must they be regarding company priorities and operating goals?

In Owning Up, business advisor and corporate governance expert Ram Charan answers these and other burning questions on the minds of directors and business leaders. He describes best practices that are emerging in boardrooms he has observed firsthand. And he provides practical recommendations on a range of issues, from compensation to dealing with external constituencies. Wisely attuned to the human side, he confronts the need for some boards to refresh their composition and for others to rebalance their board dynamics.

Directors, CEOs, general counsels, and operating executives will find here the guidance they need to meet the new and rising standards for corporate governance in this demanding business environment.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780470397671
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/13/2009
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

RAM CHARAN is the go-to adviser for corporate directors and CEOs. Known for his insights and practical wisdom, Charan has counseled some of the world’s most successful business leaders. He is coauthor of the bestseller Execution and author or coauthor of 14 other books including Leaders at All Levels, Boards That Deliver, and Boards at Work. He serves on three boards and was named one of Directorship's top 100 directors. He has an MBA and a doctoral degree with corporate governance as a field of study from the Harvard Business School.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Jack Krol vii

What Boards Need Now ix

1. Question 1. Is Our Board Composition Right for the Challenge? 1

2. Question 2. Are We Addressing the Risks That Could Send Our Company over the Cliff? 19

3. Question 3. Are We Prepared to Do Our Job Well When a Crisis Erupts? 33

4. Question 4. Are We Well Prepared to Name Our Next CEO? 41

5. Question 5. Does Our Board Really Own the Company’s Strategy? 57

6. Question 6. How Can We Get the Information We Need to Govern Well? 73

7. Question 7. How Can Our Board Get CEO Compensation Right? 85

8. Question 8. Why Do We Need a Lead Director Anyway? 101

9. Question 9. Is Our Governance Committee Best of Breed? 117

10. Question 10. How Do We Get the Most Value out of Our Limited Time? 127

11. Question 11. How Can Executive Sessions Help the Board Own Up? 137

12. Question 12. How Can Our Board Self-Evaluation Improve Our Functioning and Our Output? 149

13. Question 13. How Do We Stop from Micromanaging? 163

14. Question 14. How Prepared Are We to Work with Activist Shareholders and Their Proxies? 173

About the Author 187

Acknowledgments 189

Index 191

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