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Leading the Board

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Leading the Board

The Six Disciplines of World-Class Chairmen

Palgrave Macmillan,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

CEOs are the rock stars of the business world. But true power lies in the position of chairman of the board.

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Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


As chairman of the board, you must walk a fine line. You cannot be intrusive or expect to have a say in all day-to-day operations. You cannot try to force your own ideas through the system. At the same time, you cannot be a yes-man for the CEO, letting him or her run roughshod over the organization. Andrew and Nada Kakabadse, professors and corporate boards experts, explain why the chair must be his or her company’s ethical paladin. If the chairman starts cutting corners, soon the company will have no corners left to cut. Although its somewhat academic text occasionally takes page-filling detours, including examining the Socratic roots of the word “dialogue,” the book provides an insightful analysis of six “essential disciplines” a board chair should follow. getAbstract thinks that board leaders, particularly new ones, will find this book very useful.


The Chairman Is the Ultimate Leader

Recent tough standards, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, as well as increased demands from economic organizations and investor groups, make it harder than ever to oversee corporations. That duty lies with the chairman of the board, who ensures that commercial activities move ahead logically and systematically, and that everything is done legally and ethically.

Despite the current trend toward celebrity CEOs, the chairman actually is in charge of the organization. He or she selects and directs the CEO, and not the reverse. The chair must ultimately answer to shareholders, customers, analysts and everyone else if things go wrong. Thus, the chairman must always be ready to put the brakes on the CEO if he or she suddenly goes off course. The chair heads the board, approves strategy and is responsible for governance. He or she is the overall “steward of the enterprise.” It is the chairman, not the CEO, who keeps the railroad running by paying attention to six crucial “disciplines”:

“Discipline 1 – Delineating Boundaries”

In any corporation, the functions, roles and activities of management must not be the same as those of the board...

About the Authors

Andrew Kakabadse is a professor at the Cranfield University School of Management and Nada Kakabadse is a professor at the University of Northampton Business School, both in the United Kingdom.

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    I. O. 5 years ago
    Found this summary insightful and really clear. Taking on a chairman role recently has caused me to re-look at a number of behaviours and this summary gives an insight into key, material tasks ahead!

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