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Boards That Lead

When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way

Review Boards that Leadby Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Mass., 2014, 277 pp., $35 hardcover

Boards That Lead opens a window into the intriguing world of the modern corporate board room, revealing that great change has been taking place in how boards of directors provide organizational leadership. The work lends parallels for school system leadership but is more directly suited to those in the corporate world.

School administrators would recognize that American school boards have some of the same leadership expectations that the authors identify for corporate boards. Execution and operation differ, fortunately. School boards use different tools and are embedded in a system of support through their state school directors associations. Such systems are not to be found in the corporate world, thus underscoring a compelling need for this book, which provides clear writing and thinking to help the corporate practitioner.

Business advisers Ram Charan, Dennis Carey and Michael Useem team up as authors to show readers that leadership at the top of corporations is being redefined. They advocate a new governance model and provide clear and concise rationale for its effectiveness. Peppered with many examples taken from their extensive work with the world's largest firms, Boards That Lead offers insights into leadership, board development and governance.

This well-written book is full of useful information for corporate governance and appeals to an audience in that sector. Superintendents and school board members, however, would have to stretch to find the information and recommendations applicable to the governance function of school boards.

Reviewed by Kenneth E. Hoover, superintendent, Monroe Public Schools, Monroe, Wash.


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