The chairman of the board, or chairperson, is the highest authority figure on the board of directors. Their function is specified in their organisation's bylaws. The chairman prioritises the organisation’s best interests and sets the narrative to ensure good governance and leadership. They act as liaisons between the board of directors and the top-level management, opening the line of communication with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO).
The chair oversees the board of directors meetings and ensures that the organisation conducts business methodically.
Role and responsibilities
The chairman of the board is typically not involved in the day-to-day operations of the organisation. Rather, they serve a more advisory role overseeing the actions taken by the board members and executives of the organisation. The roles and responsibilities of the chairman of the board typically include (but are not limited to):
- Setting the tone for the company’s corporate culture
- Being in control of big-picture ideas for the organisation
- Ensuring accountability among the officers to meet the stakeholders’ needs
- Managing the board of directors meeting agenda, be it online or in-person
- Being accountable for the management of the officers
- Offering leadership to the organisation’s officials and employees
- Setting major goals and objectives to be achieved by the executives
- Helping the upper-level management in cooperating with the board
Qualifications and qualities
To become the chairman of the board of an organisation, you need at least 10 years of job experience, a track record that shows success in management positions and at least a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Although most companies nowadays require a master’s or doctor’s degree to fill the role.
Independent thinking, integrity and a commanding and influential presence are defining qualities of the chairman of the board. A good chairman excels in effective communication and is a good listener. They have substantial prior experience in the workings of an organisation and have a clear vision of their organisation’s role forward. They are effective listeners and welcome opinions to drive change.
Selection and tenure
The chair is selected into their position by a majority vote among the board of directors. Prior to the selection, casual discussions and formal meetings are held to recommend fitting candidates. In some cases, the board members might elect the CEO of the organisation to also serve as a chair.
There is no designated period for the chairman of the board to serve. However, depending on the size of the organisation and the complexity of the business, they typically operate for 5 to 8 years. This time frame ensures consistent functioning and lessens revenue loss as a result of departures/changes in the organisation.
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