Featured Stories

CEO Evaluations: A Board Chair’s Guide to Strategic Oversight


In disruptive times, performing rigorous CEO performance reviews is more important than ever for boards, their chairs, and governance committees seeking to contribute substantively to the organization's success.

"A more holistic evaluation process is preferable, one that encompasses the full spectrum of presence, leadership example, strategic and decision activities, operating strengths, interpersonal traits, and motivates the followership that all accrue to a CEO’s positive impact and organizational performance achievement,"
~ Mike Humphries, Waldron + Torchiana Chair & CEO. 

Far more than a box-checking exercise, rigorous assessments can stand as a vital and collaborative oversight process - one that helps guide organizations through uncertainty by aligning executive leaders and their boards to evolving priorities.

For boards, ineffective or cursory evaluations represent a missed opportunity and may pose a significant blind spot. An insular view, solely with board input and centered narrowly on operational objectives and financial metrics’ achievement, fails to reveal the complete picture of a CEO's impact and potential. It invites bias and risks misalignment.

As markets become increasingly competitive or disrupted, an unbiased, independently performed, and more rigorous evaluation framework provides the board with a more comprehensive and thorough tool, enhancing strategic CEO performance insights that inform key governance decisions.

Illuminating a More Holistic Perspective

Relying solely on board input reveals too narrow a field of essential perspectives. Confidential and broader stakeholder input elicits candid feedback on CEO leadership effectiveness, leadership style, decision-making, and more. Powerful evaluation criteria further contextualize performance. The board gains invaluable objective data from other key stakeholders to complement its own close-up but inherently limited vantage point, often including the CEO’s executive team and reports, other key organization leaders, and potentially important external stakeholders.

"Often, boards benefit greatly by bringing in a credible, independent outside party to manage an inclusive, transparent, and highly-developed process to navigate significant organizational dissonance," noted Nancy Pellegrino, Board Director at HomeStreet Bank and Founder of Pellegrino Advisory Services.

Connecting Insights to Oversight

An effective evaluation framework strategically aligns with the board's oversight duties - informing vital decisions around compensation, succession planning, risk management, organizational effectiveness, and culture health. It provides the comprehensive analysis boards need to uphold their fiduciary responsibilities amid marketplace and workforce complexities.

Reassuring Stakeholders

In challenging or opportunistic times, proactive, rigorous reviews also reassure stakeholders. Consistency demonstrates the board's unwavering commitment to ethics and accountability. Ongoing transparency about oversight processes sustains confidence in governance and principled leadership even amid uncertainty.

Especially amid disruption, "What’s so valuable about this process is that it measures the CEO through other levers than only the typical operational and financial metrics. It force-fits the What and the How in relation to the question of ‘CEO performance in this time of crisis,’" explained Raquel Karls, Chief People Officer at BECU. Evaluations should assess character, leadership agility, and engagement beyond just operational or financial outcomes.

The Waldron + Torchiana Advantage

With over 40 years of experience, Waldron + Torchiana brings unmatched expertise in independent third-party CEO and board evaluations. Our tailored process is rigorous yet efficient, incorporating stakeholder perspectives and industry benchmarks to provide boards with the strategic insights needed for oversight. We employ a competency-based approach that looks beyond financial metrics to assess the full spectrum of CEO leadership and impact. Our independent counsel and discretion instill stakeholder confidence that evaluations are impartial and objective.

"Waldron-Torchiana employs a rigorous, though efficient and time-managed, CEO-specific, competency-driven process that also incorporates the operating metrics. Each assessment evaluates leaders inclusively and more thoroughly, offering them clear feedback and a path to contemplation, planned and measured development and long-term performance enhancement," said Mike Humphries.