The Effective Lead Director

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One of today’s plenary sessions centered on the NACD’s recent release of the Report of the NACD Blue Ribbon Commission on the Effective Lead Director. The moderator, NACD’s Peter Gleason, opened the session by asking the panelists how the role has changed since its creation only a couple of decades ago. Panelist Barbara Hackman Franklin, who also served as one of the Commission’s co-chairs, explained that what was once a role intended to preside over executive sessions has expanded to a much broader role in the organization. Franklin suggested that lead directors are now challenged with bringing out the best in the boardroom.

Other members of the Commission on the panel were Irv Hockaday, Karen Horn, and Ted Dysart, who shared the findings from the report. They discussed the ideal traits of a lead director candidate and whether an individual can serve as both the lead director and chair of the nominating/governance committee. While views differed on this last point, Irv Hockaday was sure to point out that there are no one-size-fits-all approaches in this Commission’s report. Rather, boards are free to decide for themselves the best structures for their boards and the report addresses some of the considerations or discussions directors should have.

Karen Horn summed up the session and the role of the lead
director best when she said that the role of the lead director is to “lead from behind and help others find their voice.”

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