Noteworthy Books About Corporate Governance

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Sure, the Internet has made it easy to read bite-sized articles on all the latest trends in board membership—in fact, you’re reading one of those right now. But are you looking to take a deeper dive into the world of corporate governance? Well, we have some suggestions for you!

  1. Dear Chairman

This fascinating read by hedge fund manager and adjunct professor at Columbia Business School, Jeff Gramm, digs deep into the ever-evolving relationship between corporate directors and shareholder activists. “Gramm analyzes different eras and pivotal boardroom battles from the last century to understand the factors that have caused shareholders and management to collide. Throughout, he uses the letters to show how investors interact with directors and managers, how they think about their target companies, and how they plan to profit.”

Who should read: public company and corporate directors as well as board members with an interest in the history of shareholder activism.

  1. The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

For more than 50 years, Warren Buffet has been leading Berkshire Hathaway while also becoming one of the most successful corporate leaders in the history of American business. Although it is a slightly older collection, these timeless essays get at the heart of corporate leadership and are “comprehensive, non-repetitive, and digestible.”

Who should read: anyone with interest in corporate leadership.

  1. The Nonprofit Board Answer Book

Board members often get their start by serving on a board of directors for a nonprofit organization. Nonprofits present a unique set of laws and challenges for governance. This book “covers such topics as board structure and process, board member recruitment and orientation, board-staff relations, and financial management.” It acts as a great go-to guide for new and seasoned nonprofit board members who want to excel as strategic leaders.

Who should read: anyone who serves on a nonprofit board.

  1. Boards That Lead: When to Take Charge, When to Partner, and When to Stay Out of the Way

As the scope of board leadership has grown and shifted over the years, corporate directors have had to ask some critical questions—like the ones in the title of this explainer by boardroom veterans Ram Charan, Dennis Carey, and Michael Useem. In this book, which was derived from personal interviews with major business leaders, the authors acknowledge that the boardroom demands more from directors in the 21st century. However, they also spend some time pointing out the “pitfalls of this new leadership model” and how to avoid them.

Who should read: board members who want to reflect on the overall performance of their board.

5. The Imperfect Board Member: Discovering the Seven Disciplines of Governance Excellence

This easy-to-read book presents an inviting window into examples of ways that board members can utilize their unique attributes to bring their best self to board service. Written in a conversational style, this book is far from “boring” and approaches board service from an interpersonal perspective.

Who should read: anyone serving on a board.

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