The Board Chair role: More than navigating through the agenda

Kelly LeCouvie
Kelly LeCouvie

When people think of the Chair’s role during a board meeting, they often think of responsibilities such as introducing each topic on the agenda, asking managers to make pre-arranged presentations, soliciting comments from the directors, and managing the time used for each topic. Those responsibilities indeed typically belong the Chair of the board. However, if that is all the Chair is managing, he/she is potentially missing opportunities to create optimal value from directors’ participation. In addition to those responsibilities the Chair should consider the following questions when conducting his/her own self-evaluation.

  • Am I really listening, in an active, engaged way to what is being said?
  • Am I able to distinguish input that is truly strategic and critical from the many comments that are much less impactful to the business?
  • Can I synthesize the information and comments being shared at the board meeting and distill them into appropriate, resonant themes?
  • Do I effectively share back with the board (and management when appropriate) the meaning or impact various discussions and suggestions may have on the business moving forward?
  • Can I communicate this in a way that is actionable to the appropriate people?

If your answer to these questions is “yes”, then congratulations, you are likely a very effective board Chair! If your answer to some or all of the questions is “no”, then you have some opportunities to strengthen your own performance, and ultimately enhance the value of your board.

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