How to Be a Good Board Chair

A new study distills the qualities of a good board chair.

An effective chair, the people in our study largely concurred, provides leadership not to the company but to the board, enabling it to function as the highest decision-making body in the organization. As one survey respondent put it: “The chair is responsible for and represents the board, while the CEO is responsible for and is the public face of the company.” That crucial distinction makes the chair’s job very different from the CEO’s, and it calls for specific skills and practices.

The qualities identified include: leading the board, not the company, shifting away from traditional management goals like defining team norms and building trust, and focus on quickly scoping, structuring, and sorting the collaborative work, represent the board in dealing with shareholders, make good use of committees.

We would amplify the “pay attention to prep” quality. There is no better indicator of a board’s effectiveness than the quality, quantity (not too much!) and timing of the background materials and the guidance of the chair in making sure that the meetings are about discussing the materials, not reiterating them.

Source: How to Be a Good Board Chair

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