Letter From The Editor – Those Who Inspire

by Deborah Scally
Corporate Board Member
Third Quarter 2014

There is no substitute for truly great leadership, and while saying so may be a cliché, it doesn’t make it any less true. If we’re lucky, some of us will have the benefit of serving under a genuine leader, whether in a corporate environment, a community group, or even within a family. Great leaders and leadership teams have a wide swath of qualities that often produce amazing results, but in some senses, they do something much more important than that. They inspire.

This issue of Corporate Board Member features a special report on seven corporations and their leaders, who serve as inspirations to others in the arena of governance and compliance. They are the winners of the inaugural NYSE Governance Services Leadership Awards. To celebrate the achievements of this year’s winners and finalists, NYSE Governance Services recently held a gala in their honor at the New York Stock Exchange—a red carpet affair attended by some of the nation’s foremost governance authorities and executives from the most recognized and respected public companies in the United States.

How were our winners selected? The title bearers for each award demonstrated unique, exemplary characteristics that made them a standout choice in the eyes of our distinguished panel of judges. Within the pages of our special report starting on page 28, we present brief profiles of each winner, which we hope will inspire others to raise the bar on corporate governance, compliance, and ethics. Admittedly, some of the judges’ decisions were not easy ones, yet in the end, there were no dissenting votes in any category. Even so, Corporate Board Member believes all those who participated in this year’s program deserve public recognition; therefore, our article includes a full list of nominees.

The conveyance of these awards supports our editorial mission, which calls for us to assist public company boards with leadership initiatives, especially when they involve complex and, at times, overwhelming challenges. In our cover story on cyber risk, we outline the important role the board must take to maintain an aggressive offense—which includes asking the right questions to help counter an increasingly severe risk concern. Our research shows that while board members are aware of the gravity of cybersecurity risks, they are frequently at a loss as to how to address them. This article lays out some foundational questions and good practices for boards grappling with this difficult issue. Next, we hope our feature on retooling the board offers meaningful advice for the often-sticky situation of what to do when the board needs to reexamine its ranks. Extricating long-standing directors who are no longer pulling their weight is a sensitive topic, to say the least. But in today’s environment, boards that fail to fire on all cylinders will likely see their company left in the dust.

In the end, all these issues require the board and C-suite executives to provide an essential element: leadership. Our sincere congratulations to those who continue to lead and inspire in the face of new challenges and an ever-shifting landscape for public companies and their boards.