The chair (also known as chairman, chairwoman or chairperson) of the board plays a pivotal role in the success and effectiveness of a board of directors. As the leader of the board, the chair is responsible for setting the tone, guiding discussions, and ensuring that the board fulfills its duties to the organisation and its stakeholders. 


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What are the primary responsibilities of a chair?

The primary responsibilities of a chair include:

  • Leading the board and ensuring its effectiveness
  • Setting the agenda for board meetings and facilitating productive discussions
  • Ensuring that all board members have the opportunity to contribute and that their views are heard
  • Serving as a liaison between the board and the organisation's management team
  • Communicating the board's decisions and expectations to the CEO and other key executives
  • Conducting performance evaluations of the CEO and providing feedback and guidance
  • Ensuring that the board complies with legal and regulatory requirements
  • Representing the organisation externally, such as at industry events or stakeholder meetings

How does a chair facilitate effective board meetings?

To facilitate effective board meetings, a chair should:


  • Set a clear agenda that focuses on strategic issues and priorities
  • Distribute meeting materials well in advance to allow board members to prepare
  • Start and end meetings on time and keep discussions on track
  • Encourage participation from all board members and ensure that all views are heard
  • Manage conflicts and disagreements constructively
  • Summarise key points and decisions made during the meeting
  • Ensure that action items are assigned and followed up on
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of each meeting and seek feedback from board members


What skills and qualities make an effective chair?

An effective chair possesses a range of skills and qualities, including:

  • Strong leadership and facilitation skills
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Strategic thinking and the ability to see the "big picture"
  • Impartiality and the ability to balance different perspectives
  • Emotional intelligence and the ability to build trust and rapport with board members
  • Integrity and a commitment to ethical behavior
  • Resilience and the ability to manage pressure and challenges
  • A deep understanding of the organisation's mission, values, and strategic objectives

How does a chair build and maintain a strong relationship with the CEO?

To build and maintain a strong relationship with the CEO, a chair should:

  • Establish clear expectations and boundaries between the board and management
  • Schedule regular check-ins and performance evaluations with the CEO
  • Provide support, guidance, and constructive feedback to the CEO
  • Encourage open communication and transparency between the board and management
  • Work collaboratively with the CEO to develop and implement the organisation's strategy
  • Respect the CEO's role and authority in managing the day-to-day operations of the organisation
  • Address any concerns or issues with the CEO promptly and professionally
  • Celebrate successes and recognise the CEO's contributions to the organisation

What is the chair's role in board succession planning and recruitment?

The chair plays a critical role in board succession planning and recruitment by:

  • Leading the development of a board succession plan that identifies future needs and potential candidates
  • Working with the nominations committee to define the skills, experience, and diversity required on the board
  • Identifying and cultivating potential board candidates through networking and outreach
  • Ensuring that the board recruitment process is fair, transparent, and aligned with the organisation's values and objectives
  • Providing guidance and support to new board members during their onboarding and orientation
  • Encouraging ongoing learning and development opportunities for all board members
  • Conducting regular board evaluations to assess the effectiveness of the board and identify areas for improvement
  • Planning for their own succession and ensuring a smooth transition to the next chair

How can a chair foster a culture of trust and collaboration on the board?

To foster a culture of trust and collaboration on the board, a chair should:

  • Lead by example and demonstrate the behaviors and values expected of all board members
  • Create a safe and inclusive environment where all board members feel valued and respected
  • Encourage open and honest communication, and be receptive to feedback and ideas
  • Promote a culture of inquiry and constructive debate, where dissenting views are welcomed
  • Recognise and celebrate the contributions and achievements of individual board members
  • Foster a sense of teamwork and shared purpose among board members
  • Address any conflicts or tensions on the board promptly and professionally
  • Encourage social interactions and relationship-building among board members outside of formal meetings

What is the chair's role in stakeholder engagement?

The chair plays a key role in stakeholder engagement by:

  • Identifying the organisation's key stakeholders and understanding their interests and concerns
  • Representing the organisation externally and building relationships with stakeholders
  • Ensuring that the board considers the needs and expectations of stakeholders in its decision-making
  • Communicating the organisation's mission, values, and performance to stakeholders
  • Seeking feedback and input from stakeholders on the organisation's strategy and operations
  • Addressing any concerns or issues raised by stakeholders promptly and transparently
  • Partnering with the CEO and management team to develop and implement a stakeholder engagement plan
  • Monitoring the effectiveness of the organisation's stakeholder engagement efforts and making improvements as needed


The chair of the board plays a critical role in the success and effectiveness of a board of directors. By providing strong leadership, fostering a culture of trust and collaboration, and ensuring that the board fulfills its duties to the organisation and its stakeholders, a chair can help drive long-term value creation and success. Effective chairs possess a range of skills and qualities, including strategic thinking, emotional intelligence, and a deep commitment to the organisation's mission and values. They also play key roles in board succession planning, stakeholder engagement, and building strong relationships with the CEO and management team. As the demands on boards continue to evolve and increase, the role of the chair will only become more important in ensuring effective governance and leadership.

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