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Board effectiveness and evaluation  |  Chair  |  Leadership (purpose, values, culture)

Exploring the crucial traits of an effective chair


In the dynamic landscape of governance, the role of the board chair holds paramount significance in shaping the direction and success of an organisation. In this blog, we look at the essential qualities that define an effective board chair, drawing upon insights from our community and best practices in leadership. We touch upon the similarities between the board chair and committee chair roles.

What are the essential qualities of a good board chair?

With the ever-evolving business landscape and the challenges that boards face today, the role of a board chair is a dynamic and multifaceted responsibility. Effective board chairs need to demonstrate various qualities to enable them to effectively lead and manage the board of directors.

  • Leadership skills. The board chair should effectively lead the board, set the agenda and facilitate discussions to ensure that the board makes informed decisions.
  • Communication skills. The board chair communicates clearly and effectively with board members, stakeholders, and other key parties.
  • Strategic thinking. The board chair should have a strategic mindset to help the board think about long-term goals and objectives.
  • Collaboration. The board chair should work well with other board members and facilitate collaboration and teamwork among the board.
  • Decision-making. The board chair should be able to make difficult decisions when necessary and be able to effectively communicate those decisions to the board and other stakeholders.
  • Integrity. The board chair should be a person of integrity, with a strong sense of ethics and a commitment to the organisation’s mission and values.
  • Adaptability. The board chair should be able to adapt to changing circumstances and be open to new ideas and approaches.
  • Time management. The board chair should manage their time effectively and prioritise tasks to ensure that the board is able to meet its responsibilities and make timely decisions.

What are the similarities between the qualities of a board chair and those of a committee chair?

The roles of board chair and committee chair share similarities because both form the bedrock of leadership within organisations. The board chair and committee chair positions demand individuals with leadership acumen, strong communication skills, and the ability to build consensus and foster an environment of constructive collaboration. As such, the qualities of a board chair seamlessly extend to committee chairs, encompassing the same attributes necessary for effective leadership.

For those aspiring to take on the pivotal committee or board chair role, our comprehensive Chairship course offers guidance and insights to equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to secure a chair role and excel as a chairperson. Discover how you can step confidently into the realm of board and committee leadership by enrolling in our specialised course today.

Related resources:

Perspective of an international chair

Board Best Practices®: Chairs

Written by Elise Perraud