Following the embarrassing boardroom leaks at Hewlett-Packard, many boards have adopted a confidentiality policy explicitly stating that board members not speak to the press.
Boards should specifically discuss and agree on a policy that board members either are, or are not, to speak with the press. If a board decides as a group that they will have direct contact with the press, it should be one voice, either that of the lead director or the nonexecutive chairman. When it is determined that it is appropriate for the board to communicate, speaking through the lead director or nonexecutive chairman will make it clear that it is the voice of the board that is speaking, not management.
There are exceptional circumstances--a major upheaval such as a CEO succession issue--when it is appropriate/necessary for the board to respond. We faced this at HealthSouth Corp. when we had to remove the founder, CEO, and chairman, Richard Scrushy. We then had...