The chairperson plays an important role in a company. Their main duties include chairing meetings of the Board of Directors, setting meeting agendas in conjunction with the Company Secretary, managing and providing leadership to the Board of Directors, and acting as a direct liaison between the Board and the Company’s management, through the Chief Executive Officer.
What ultimately defines a good Chairperson is the ability to run an effective Board and to manage relationships with both shareholders and stakeholders. Below are some of the key qualities that make an effective Chairperson.
1. Ability to chair meetings
Boards of Directors meet only a few times a year, but they make decisions that define the organisation’s destiny for years to come. The ability to manage those meetings effectively is key. A chairperson must ensure that all the business is discussed in line with the agenda, that everyone’s views are heard and discussed, that clear decisions are reached and accepted and that they follow up to make sure agreed actions are carried out in line with Board decisions.
2. Understanding the business
An exceptional Chairperson understands the business, its culture, people and processes. They also understand the wider industry and prepare the company for all eventualities. An experienced chairperson can quickly identify opportunities, any potential risks facing their organisation and will engage with their Board at an early stage to discuss potential courses of action.
3. Ability to influence others, without dominating
A good chairperson is responsible for ensuring that all board members are using their own unique skills for the good of the organisation. They must ensure all board members contribute to discussions and the decision-making process and they must allow each board member to express their views, even if they conflict with the chairperson’s view. Developing effective communication with board members is key. An exceptional chairperson is careful not to allow their own personality to dominate. They are willing to be challenged on their own views and enjoy open debate.
4. A strong personality
The role of the chairperson is a difficult job. They have ultimate responsibility for board performance. A good chairperson gives strength and support to others while being resilient themselves. This requires a strong personality. Even the most experienced and effective Boards can face challenging times and the ability of the Chair to deal with these situations and to bounce back is essential to a company recovering and moving on.
5. Good communication
One of the exceptional chairperson’s secrets of success is effective communication with all stakeholders. Through effective communication, the chairperson gains the confidence of their Board of Directors and provides clarity in the boardroom. The chairperson’s ability at communicating company strategy to external stakeholders and giving stakeholders confidence in the company’s future direction will help keep external pressures at bay. They will also stand up to shareholder pressure, if necessary. An effective chairperson does not lose sight of their main priority of improving the long-term performance of the business.