What makes a good chair?

By Frank Lewis

The role of the chair has become much higher in profile and the expectations have increased as, quite rightly, stakeholders now expect an engaged, energetic and involved chair who does more than simply manage the corporate governance process.

The success of a chair undoubtedly hinges on the relationship between the chair and the chief executive, a relationship that should be centred on honesty, trust and transparency. The success of this relationship is based on mutual understanding by both parties of the distinction between their two roles.

An effective chair must have an extremely good knowledge of the business they are chairing: they must know enough to ask the right questions and must provide a constructive level of challenge to the chief executive. One of the main faults of a chair deemed to be ineffective is their failure to comprehend that they are not there to run the business and that their role is instead to support and guide. In simple terms, the job of the chair is to ensure that the business is well run and not to run the business…

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