Boards That Excel

Candid Insights and Practical Advice for Directors

B. Joseph White (Author)

Publication date: 08/18/2014

Boards That Excel

This book argues that organizations excel when board members act as stewards rather than just overseers.

  • Authoritative: White is a board member of an S&P 500 company, the director of one of America's largest private companies, an experienced nonprofit director, and a distinguished academic leader.
  • Secret to success: This book argues that organizations excel when board members act as stewards rather than just overseers-it's a complete guide for new board members and a great tool for board renewal.

Boards That Excel is a different kind of corporate governance book. Author B. Joseph White, a successful corporate executive, a veteran of many boards, and a distinguished academic, argues that boards enable organizations to excel only when directors go beyond their standard duties of oversight and monitoring management. Directors, he says, must set high aspirations, serve as stewards who know the organization in all its dimensions, and make decisions that create value for all stakeholders-owners, employees, customers, and society. The goal is not just achieving short-term success but ensuring that the company or nonprofit retains control of its destiny over the long term.

White provides a comprehensive guide to all the responsibilities of a board member, always informed by this wider perspective. He draws lessons from his own experiences serving on boards, as well as interviews with more than a dozen high-performance directors, including General Motors's board chair Tim Solso, Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel, and legendary real-estate investor and Equity Residential chairman Sam Zell. Authoritative and disarmingly honest, this work is an inspiring call to board members to understand and fully embrace their critically important role.

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Overview

This book argues that organizations excel when board members act as stewards rather than just overseers.

  • Authoritative: White is a board member of an S&P 500 company, the director of one of America's largest private companies, an experienced nonprofit director, and a distinguished academic leader.
  • Secret to success: This book argues that organizations excel when board members act as stewards rather than just overseers-it's a complete guide for new board members and a great tool for board renewal.

Boards That Excel is a different kind of corporate governance book. Author B. Joseph White, a successful corporate executive, a veteran of many boards, and a distinguished academic, argues that boards enable organizations to excel only when directors go beyond their standard duties of oversight and monitoring management. Directors, he says, must set high aspirations, serve as stewards who know the organization in all its dimensions, and make decisions that create value for all stakeholders-owners, employees, customers, and society. The goal is not just achieving short-term success but ensuring that the company or nonprofit retains control of its destiny over the long term.

White provides a comprehensive guide to all the responsibilities of a board member, always informed by this wider perspective. He draws lessons from his own experiences serving on boards, as well as interviews with more than a dozen high-performance directors, including General Motors's board chair Tim Solso, Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel, and legendary real-estate investor and Equity Residential chairman Sam Zell. Authoritative and disarmingly honest, this work is an inspiring call to board members to understand and fully embrace their critically important role.

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Meet the Author


Visit Author Page - B. Joseph White

Joseph (Joe) White is James F. Towey Professor of Business and Leadership and President Emeritus at the University of Illinois and Dean Emeritus of the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He teaches U.S. corporate governance to graduate business and law students at Illinois. He is the author of The Nature of Leadership: Reptiles, Mammals and the Challenge of Becoming a Great Leader (AMACOM, 2007).

Joe is a trustee and chair of the corporate governance committee of Equity Residential, Inc. (NYSE:EQR). During his service, EQR has grown from an enterprise value of $800 million to over $30 billion, delivered annualized total shareholder return of 13 percent and become an S&P 500 company.

Joe is a director of Gordon Food Service. During his service, GFS has grown from $400 million to over $10 billion in revenue and become one of America's 40 largest private companies. He helped create governance arrangements intended to enable GFS to thrive in perpetuity as an independent family business.

Joe has extensive experience on corporate and nonprofit boards including Kelly Services, M Financial Holdings, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, Argonne National Laboratory, American Council on Education, National Merit Scholarship Corporation and Georgetown University.

Joe was the sixteenth president of the University of Illinois from 2005 to 2009. He served as dean of the University of Michigan Business School (now the Ross School of Business) from 1991 to 2001. He has private sector experience, including six years as an officer of Cummins, Inc.

Joe brings to Boards that Excel background as an influential force in business education and talent development. As dean at Michigan, he integrated action learning into MBA studies, creating the first new curriculum model since introduction of the case method. Joe touched off movements in the business school world that elevated corporate citizenship and increased the ranks of women and minority executives.

In Boards that Excel, Joe blends governance research with practical experience and shows how to turn knowledge into action. He urges corporate and nonprofit directors to set high aspirations and provides practical advice on how to achieve them.

He shares the wisdom of experienced directors through candid and insightful interviews.Joe is a graduate of Georgetown University, Harvard Business School, and the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Mary, have two children and five grandchildren.

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Table of Contents

Introduction. Pay It Forward: The Purpose of This Book

1. High Aspirations and Strong Results: The Bookends of Great Governance

2. Understand the Role: Stewardship Thinking

3. Understand the Enterprise: What Is a Company (School, Hospital ...)?

4. Do the Right Things: The Substance of Great Governance

5. Do Things Right: The Process of Great Governance

6. Embrace the Best of "Good Governance": The Emerging Orthodoxy

7. Other Voices: Interviews with Board Chairs, CEOs, and Experienced Directors

8. Conclusion: The "Vital Few" for Boards and Directors

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Endorsements

"Joe White is a master--he is the John Wooden and Vince Lombardi of corporate governance."

-- Mannie Jackson, former Chairman and owner, Harlem Globetrotters and Director, Arizona Diamondbacks, Acorn Energy, and Epic Diagnostic

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