Home >Companies >News >Management idea | Higher ambition CEOs need higher ambition boards

In a country where boards are regarded as mere old boys clubs, this working paper from authors Edward Ludwig, former chief executive officer (CEO) of Becton, Dickinson and Co.; Elise Walton, senior partner at CLG; and Michael Beer, emeritus at the Harvard Business School, suggests that if you are a CEO with high ambition, you need to have a board with higher ambition.

“Over the past years, forward-looking CEOs have adopted a higher-ambition approach to strategy and leadership. These ‘higher-ambition CEOs’ are driven by a sense of purpose that goes beyond achieving financial success," say the authors.

The authors point out that various factors could upset higher ambition companies, and boards of directors play a unique and critical stewardship role in sustaining the higher ambition model.

“Through their numerous decisions, boards have the power to protect and sustain the core higher-ambition values and practices from one CEO to the next, from one market lifecycle to the next," say the authors. “This is where higher-ambition CEOs should make sure that they have—or are building—higher-ambition boards."

The authors identify higher ambition boards as those having not only basic good governance and fiscal stewardship, but possess an “implicit agreement with a higher-ambition strategy".

Apart from the CEO, the board members too need to pay more attention to building their own higher ambition capability, say the authors.

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