I have interacted with numerous boards and board chairs across the country. They are any under-studied species. What do they think and do? A recent study, “Voices of Board Chairs” by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, is one of the few studies that sheds some light. There is much in their report that merits attention. But I took from it a couple of things I will highlight in this post and my following post. For this post, let’s focus on the role of the chair in relationship to the board itself.
The study indicates that most chairs view their most important contribution to the board in two areas: 1) keeping the board focused on strategic direction and 2) facilitating the board’s meaningful engagement in the agenda before it. These are such seminal responsibilities. Without chairs doing this, we have boards dependent on the CEO for strategic focus and for keeping board members meaningfully engaged in the agenda before them. Both are extremely dangerous.
I have witnessed the powerful contribution that a good board chair makes as she/he leans into…
- Owning the agenda for the board’s work with the CEO
- Ensuring that the board is devoting adequate time to about the right matters
- Planning with the CEO various methods of presentation and interaction in the boardroom to ensure that all board members are invited into the process
- Watching to make sure that all board members believe their personal contribution is heard and valued
- Modeling for the board good self-awareness and attention to ongoing improvement of performance
What does good board chair engagement in the boardroom look like to you?
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