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Que pensent vraiment les PCD de leur C.A. ?

9 avril 2013

Que pensent vraiment les PCD de leur C.A. ?  Les auteurs Jeffrey Sonnenfeld*, Melanie Kusin* et  Elise Walton* ont procédé à des entrevues en profondeur avec une douzaine de PCD (CEO) expérimentés et ils ont publiés la synthèse de leurs résultats dans Harvard Business Review (HBR). Essentiellement, les chercheurs voulaient savoir comment les C.A. peuvent avoir une influence positive et devenir un atout stratégique. Ils ont résumé leur enquête en faisant ressortir 5 conseils à l’intention des conseils d’administration. Voici un extrait de cet article très intéressant. Vos commentaires sont les bienvenus !

What CEOs Really Think of Their Boards

Over the past several years, in the wake of corporate missteps that have taken a toll on shareholders and communities alike, we’ve heard plenty about how boards of directors should have been more responsible stewards. Corporate watchdogs, investors and analysts, members of the media, regulators, and pundits have proposed guidelines and new practices. But one voice has been notably missing from this chorus—and it belongs to the constituency that knows boards and their failings best. It’s the voice of the CEO.

Harkness Tower, situated in the Memorial Quadr...

Harkness Tower, situated in the Memorial Quadrangle at Yale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are reasons for this silence from the chief executive camp. Few CEOs volunteer their views publicly; they know they’d risk looking presumptuous and becoming a target. They realize it would be foolhardy to draw attention to their own governance dysfunctions or seem to reveal boardroom confidences. Meanwhile, people who do make it their business to speak out on governance haven’t made much effort to elicit CEOs’ views. Extreme cases of CEO misconduct have created skepticism about whether CEOs can help fix faulty governance—a dangerous overreaction. Many observers, having seen grandiose, greedy, and corrupt CEOs protected by inattentive or complicit directors, consider excessive CEO influence on boards to be part of the problem. Others may lack the access to CEOs and the level of trust needed for frank conversations. Whatever the reasons, the omission is unfortunate. Not only do CEOs have enormous experience to draw on, but their views are the ones boards are most likely to heed.

We recently tapped our networks to bring CEOs’ opinions to light. We talked to dozens of well-regarded veteran chief executives, focusing on people with no particular reason to resent boards—we didn’t want bitterness or self-justification to color the findings. We wanted to know: What keeps a board from being as effective as it could be? Is it really the cartoon millstone around the CEO’s neck, or does it have a positive influence on the enterprise? What can a board do to become a true strategic asset?

We were surprised by the candor of the responses—even given our comfortable relationships with the CEOs and our assurances that quotes would not be attributed without express permission. Clearly, CEOs believe it is important to address problems and opportunities they’re uniquely positioned to observe. They know that their strategic visions and personal legacies can be undone by bad governance, and they have plenty to say on the subject. We’ve distilled their comments into five overarching pieces of advice for boards.

      1. Don’t Shun Risk or See It in Personal Terms
      2. Do the Homework, and Stay Consistently Plugged In
      3. Bring Character and Credentials, Not Celebrity, to the Table
      4. Constructively Challenge Strategy
      5. Make Succession Transitions Less Awkward, Not More So

« Every board is different. If you serve on one, some of these comments may strike close to home; others may not. As we listened to CEOs and reviewed our transcripts looking for patterns, we identified three important takeaways.

First, contrary to what some critics believe, CEOs do not want to keep their boards in the dark or to chip away at directors’ power. They recognize that they and their shareholders will get more value if the partnership at the top is strong. Great CEOs know that if governance isn’t working, it’s everyone’s job to figure out why and to fix it.

Second, most boards aren’t working as well as they should—and it’s not clear that any of the systemic reforms that have been proposed will remedy matters. Although governed by bylaws and legal responsibilities, interactions between CEOs and directors are still personal, and improving them often requires the sorts of honest, direct, and sometimes awkward conversations that serve to ease tensions in any personal relationship. When strong relationships are in place, it becomes easier for CEOs to speak candidly about problems—for example, if the board isn’t adding enough value to decision making, or if individual directors are unconstructive or overly skeptical. For their part, directors should be clear about what they want—whether it’s less protocol and fewer dog and pony shows or more transparency, communication, and receptivity to constructive criticism.

Third, the best leadership partnerships are forged where there is mutual respect, energetic commitment to the future success of the enterprise, and strong bonds of trust. A great board does not adopt an adversarial, “show me” posture toward management and its plans. Nor does it see its power as consisting mainly of checks and balances on the CEO’s agenda. Great boards support smart entrepreneurial risk taking with prudent oversight, wise counsel, and encouragement ».


Jeffrey Sonnenfeld*, is the senior associate dean for executive programs and the Lester Crown Professor at Yale University’s School of Management, is the founding CEO of Yale’s Chief Executive Leadership Institute. Melanie Kusin* is the vice chairman of Korn/Ferry International’s CEO practice. Elise Walton*, is a former Yale–Korn/Ferry senior research fellow, consults on corporate governance and executive leadership.

CEO & Board of Directors: Forging An Effective Relationship (

Boards should be concerned about their CEOs (

Rémunérations des administrateurs et pratiques de gouvernance | Survey du Conference Board 2013 (

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