Empowering CEOs in a Shifting Landscape

There's long been a tug of war between boards of directors and activist shareholders about how boards should be comprised to best carry out their responsibilities. Central to these issues is the relationship with the chief executive officer—specifically, how to provide the kind of oversight that enables the CEO to successfully run the business and achieve corporate goals.

There's little doubt that expectations of and pressures on chief executives continue to evolve, and there are real questions as to whether any CEO can satisfy all constituents' demands.

Revolt in the Boardroom

A few years ago, the New York Times published a commentary on a new book by Wall Street Journal assistant managing editor Alan Murray that shares this section's title, Revolt in the Boardroom. The Times article highlights some of Murray's key points:

  • The media may portray CEOs as the center of the corporate universe, but they are not. “In fact,” Murray says, “the CEO has been greatly diminished and now shares power with an array of others—boards of directors, regulators, pension fund managers, hedge fund managers, accountants, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations—all of whom are eager to have their say in the corporation's affairs.”
  • Murray notes there has been a “remarkable string” of CEO departures, including a number of high-profile executives who have fallen. In each case, the departure was a sign that the board was no longer willing to turn a blind eye to the ...

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