A good chair makes sure the board has a charter that clearly defines the practices of the board. It is the primary responsibility of the Chair to enforce the defined board practices for effective governance.
The conduct of board members at board meetings
The conduct of the board is influenced by the quality of its chairperson. The character and skills of the Chair and other members influence the quality of the discussion.
I once served on a board of a professional association whose chairperson was a ‘democratic’ one. For each agenda item, she made sure that each member on the table was given an opportunity to make their point heard. She would move one by one, pointing to the member and calling them by the name “And you sir [pointing at the member], do you have a position to note.”
Though this practice made meeting long, members generally felt contributing to the decisions. It demonstrated respect for member views and offered a platform for debate as well as dissent. An issue without a clear majority position would be a subject of member voting.
In my experience of over 13 years working with boards as well as a board member, a good board chairperson stimulates debate, does not show sides or his or her position on an issue, is firm, fair and focuses debate on value addition, has clarity of laws, regulations and the strategy of the business.
And above all, the chair does not dominate the discussion. Rather allows the board to challenge the positions of the executive management for organizational success. The average airtime of the board chair at meetings should be about 20-30% to allow for debate.
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