What Corporate Secretaries are Reading

The Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals surveyed a few experts and came up with the following list for their members. Shareowners may want to read the same in order to better communicate.

Influence: Science and Practice (4th Edition) by Robert Cialdini, says Jack Sunday, CEO of Group Five, a consulting and market research firm specializing in corporate shareholder and stock plan services.

To be successful most corporate secretaries today require the support of others in the company, including the board of directors, over whom they have little or no power or authority [and] it is primarily through their personal influence that they are able to accomplish their objectives.

According to Sunday, Cialdini combines evidence from studies with the techniques and strategies he gathered while working in the industry to help his readers develop persuasive tactics, which can be helpful to corporate secretaries.

Another book Sunday recommends is Management/Mismanagement Styles by Ichak Adizes.

This book delineates various management styles and provides effective ways of dealing with them to improve personal effectiveness.

Kris Veaco, principal of the Veaco Group, and former in-house corporate secretary, feels that stocking up on corporate law books is equally important. These books once played an integral role in a corporate secretary’s formal education, and remain an untapped resource. ‘The American Bar Association has some resources, such as the Corporate Director’s Guidebook, that are also relevant to the corporate secretary,’ says Veaco.

(The Director’s Handbook 2010 Edition by Thomas Dougherty is also very thorough, says Veaco, who has been advising large public companies on securities law compliance and corporate governance for over 20 years. He points out that the key to staying on top of your game is to ‘have a strong foundation in governance and then stay current with the changes.’ So, curling up with the right book can help.

Last, Stanford Graduate School of Business released, Corporate Governance Matters: A Closer Look at Organizational Choices and Their Consequences by David Larcker and Brian Tayan, which seeks to encapsulate board governance and not just the theory. Says Larcker,

We were trying to separate the hype and rhetoric of corporate governance versus what we know. The book looks at governance from all perspectives, not just legal…the existing literature is too legalistic – it focuses more on compliance rather than strategy.

In hindsight, he says the book provides facts over opinions and can help corporate secretaries identify emerging developments that can improve governance. He concludes,

Corporate governance isn’t one-size-fits-all. We show that there are a lot of things to take into account in making governance decisions – from a company’s culture to its business model to where the company is in its growth cycle to a lot of other issues.

I should be writing my own review of the Larcker and Tayan book in a few weeks. Watch for it.

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