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Many of the issues facing water and wastewater utility managers today present new challenges in terms of relations with their Board of Directors, Governing Councils or other oversight bodies (referred to here as “Boards” for simplicity). Many of these issues have inherent political ramifications that invite and in some cases, demand a heightened level of Board involvement in utility management decisions. While this increased interest may bring new understanding and support for the utility's plans and programs, it also brings the potential for what some might feel is unnecessary intrusion in day-to-day management. Using specific examples from public utilities this paper will discuss the nature of these emerging issues and how each may impact Board-Management relations. Understanding the Board's perspectives and their interests on these and other contemporary issues is vital to the executive's leadership. The challenges for utility managers is to find the right balance between increasing the Board's understanding and active support for the utility needs and maintaining the independence of leadership in managing activities and motivating staff.

This paper will also explore the many facets of today's Board-Utility interactions and will provide specific suggestions for building effective relationships with Boards, based on important lesson's learned from other water utilities. The emphasis will be placed on helping utility executives enhance their leadership skills by gaining a better understanding of their interactions with their Boards and by becoming more skilled in maintaining productive relationships.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864706783789680

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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