Summary of The CEO's Boss

Tough Love in the Boardroom

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The CEO's Boss book summary
A board of directors must sometimes administer “tough love” to a CEO. Failure to do so is a dereliction of its duty.


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7 Applicability

7 Innovation

7 Style


Enron. Global Crossing. WorldCom. Adelphia. Tyco International. These corporate cautionary tales point to the crucial importance of responsible corporate governance, something in shockingly short supply in recent years. In this book, Columbia Business School Professor William M. Klepper discusses why boards must show “tough love” to CEOs to keep them in line with corporate goals. He details how a “Social Contract” can set the working partnerships between directors and CEOs. Klepper, a management expert in board and executive relationships, has worked on executive education with some of the world’s best-known firms, including AT&T, Sony and Johnson & Johnson. He tends to refer to these experiences and his credentials frequently, name-dropping with abandon. But maybe his self-promotion is justified, because he sure knows his subject. getAbstract thinks board members and CEOs will learn a lot from Klepper’s insightful, instructive and fascinating case histories.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why a “Social Contract” between boards and CEOs is vital,
  • Why directors should show CEOs “tough love,”
  • How CEO leadership styles should align with corporate needs,
  • How “soft metrics” add to a CEO’s evaluation, and
  • How to choose a CEO.


“The Social Contract”
In 2005, then-Chairman and CEO Dennis Kozlowski and then-CFO Mark H. Swartz of Tyco International were convicted of embezzling $600 million from the company, and each received a stiff prison sentence of 8 to 25 years. In the aftermath, Tyco’s new lead director, Jack...
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About the Author

William M. Klepper is a professor of management at the Columbia Business School, and he directs Columbia University’s partnership with the Outstanding Directors Exchange.

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