The Role of the Chairperson: What Does the Chairman of the Board Do? 

Have you ever wondered what exactly a Chairman’s role entails? Is it just a title or does it involve specific responsibilities and duties? In this article, we will explore the vital role of a Chairman in an organisation’s hierarchy. From providing leadership and setting expectations to facilitating effective communication and ensuring good corporate governance, a Chairman’s role is far from superficial. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The Chairman’s role in an organisation is crucial for its success.
  • They provide leadership and set expectations for the Company’s culture.
  • Their responsibilities include strategic planning, CEO appointment and evaluation, and ensuring good corporate governance.
  • Chairmen play a vital role in balancing diverse stakeholder interests and managing board dynamics.
  • Their role may vary depending on the type of organisation.

Introduction to the Role of a Chairman

The Chairman of the board holds a crucial role in an organisation as they lead and manage the Board of Directors. Their responsibilities revolve around providing leadership, setting expectations for the Company’s culture, and creating an environment for constructive discussion and informed decision-making. The Chairman’s role is essential in steering the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring good corporate governance. They play a pivotal role in balancing the interests of various stakeholders and facilitating effective communication within the organisation.

Chair vs Chief Executive

In contrast to the Chairman, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) takes the helm of the organisation’s day-to-day operations and strategic execution. A study showed that 45% of a company’s reputation is directly attributed to the CEO. While the Chairman focuses on governance, strategic oversight, and guiding the board, the CEO is immersed in the practical aspects of running the company, from implementing board-approved strategies to overseeing the operational performance and management of the company’s affairs. This division ensures a balance between strategic governance led by the Chairman and the operational dynamism driven by the CEO, fostering accountability and promoting a clear delineation of responsibilities within the organisation.

Related reading: Which is higher CEO or chairman?

Core Responsibilities of a Chairman

The Chairman of an organisation, has a range of core responsibilities that are crucial to the success and effective functioning of the company. The role involves leading the Board of Directors, ensuring strategic planning and oversight, appointing and evaluating the CEO, ensuring good corporate governance, and facilitating effective communication within the organisation.

Leading the Board of Directors

One of the key responsibilities of the Chairman is to lead the Board of Directors. They provide direction and guidance to the board, setting the agenda for board meetings and ensuring that discussions are constructive and productive. Their leadership creates an environment that encourages open dialogue and collaboration among board members, ultimately leading to well-informed decision-making.

Strategic Planning and Oversight

Another important responsibility is to ensure effective strategic planning and oversight. The Chairman plays a critical role in shaping the strategic direction of the organisation, working closely with the board and executive team to develop and implement long-term goals and objectives. The Chairman’s oversight ensures that the organisation stays on track and meets its strategic milestones.

CEO Appointment and Evaluation

Succession planning with regards to the appointment and evaluation of the CEO is a significant responsibility that falls under the purview of the Chairman. They are responsible for identifying suitable candidates for the CEO position, conducting thorough evaluations, and making informed decisions on CEO appointments. Additionally, they regularly evaluate the performance of the CEO to ensure that they are effectively leading the organisation and achieving its goals.

Ensuring Good Corporate Governance

Ensuring good corporate governance is a critical aspect of the role of the Chairman. They are responsible for upholding and promoting ethical practices, ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations, and overseeing effective risk management. Their commitment to good corporate governance fosters trust among stakeholders and contributes to the long-term success and sustainability of the organisation.

Facilitating Effective Communication

Facilitating effective communication within the organisation is another responsibility of the Chairman. They act as a bridge between the board and the executive team, ensuring that information flows smoothly and that both parties are well-informed. By fostering open communication channels, the Chairman creates an environment that encourages collaboration and alignment, leading to a more cohesive and successful organisation.

ResponsibilitiesDescription
Leading the Board of DirectorsProviding leadership, setting agendas, and promoting constructive discussions among board members.
Strategic Planning and OversightShaping the organisation’s strategic direction and ensuring effective oversight of its implementation.
CEO Appointment and EvaluationIdentifying suitable candidates, evaluating performance, and making informed decisions on CEO appointments.
Ensuring Good Corporate GovernanceUpholding ethical practices, ensuring compliance, and overseeing effective risk management.
Facilitating Effective CommunicationBridging communication between the board and executive team, ensuring smooth information flow.

The Chairman’s Role in Different Types of Organizations

When it comes to the role of a Chairman, it’s important to consider the specific context or type of organisation they are involved in. The responsibilities and focus of a Chairman may vary depending on whether they are in a public company, private company, or non-profit organisation.

Public Companies

In public companies, the role of the Chairman is crucial in representing the interests of shareholders and ensuring good corporate governance practices. They have the responsibility of overseeing the board of directors and ensuring that it operates in the best interests of the company and its stakeholders. This includes setting the strategic direction of the company, appointing and evaluating the CEO, and ensuring compliance with regulatory guidelines. The Chairman serves as a leader who guides the board in making informed decisions that align with shareholder interests and the long-term success of the company.

Private Companies

In private companies, the Chairman often has a more hands-on role in guiding strategic decisions and overseeing the executive team. They may work closely with the CEO and other key executives to set the company’s vision and goals. The Chairman’s focus in a private company is to ensure that the organisation is on the right track and that the right leadership is in place to drive growth and success. They play a crucial role in maintaining effective governance practices, overseeing risk management, and building relationships with key stakeholders, such as investors and business partners.

Non-Profit Organisations

Non-profit organisations require a Chairman who is dedicated to the organisation’s mission and values. In this context, the Chairman’s role may involve ensuring adherence to the organisation’s purpose, overseeing the board’s governance responsibilities, and representing the organisation to the public. They play a vital role in guiding the organisation’s strategic direction, promoting transparency and accountability, and establishing strong relationships with donors and supporters. The Chairman of a non-profit organisation brings leadership and strategic vision to ensure the organisation fulfils its mission and delivers meaningful impact.

Chairman Roles in Different Types of Organizations

Types of OrganizationsChairman’s Roles and Responsibilities
Public CompaniesRepresenting shareholder interests

Ensuring good corporate governance

Overseeing the board of directors

Setting strategic direction

CEO appointment and evaluation

Private CompaniesGuiding strategic decisions

Overseeing the executive team

Maintaining effective governance

Risk management

Building relationships with stakeholders

Non-Profit OrganisationsEnsuring adherence to the organisation’s mission and values

Overseeing board governance

Guiding strategic direction

Establishing relationships with donors and supporters

Skills and Qualities of an Effective Chairman

An effective Chairman possesses a set of skills and qualities that contribute to their successful leadership. These include:

Leadership and Vision

  • Ability to inspire and motivate the board and stakeholders towards a common goal
  • Strong strategic vision and the ability to drive the organisation forward

Communication and Diplomacy

  • Excellent communication skills to effectively convey ideas and information to board members and other stakeholders
  • Ability to navigate diplomatic situations and foster positive relationships within the organisation

Decision-Making and Strategic Thinking

  • Sound judgement and decision-making abilities to make informed choices for the organisation
  • Strategic thinking skills to anticipate future trends and plan for long-term success
Skills and QualitiesDescription
Leadership and VisionAn effective Chairman should possess strong leadership skills and a clear strategic vision to inspire and drive the organisation towards its goals.
Communication and DiplomacyExcellent communication skills and the ability to navigate diplomatic situations contribute to productive board discussions and a positive working environment.
Decision-Making and Strategic ThinkingSound judgement and strategic thinking abilities are crucial for making informed decisions and steering the organisation in the right direction.

Challenges Faced by The Chairman of the Board

Chairmen face various challenges in their role, including balancing diverse stakeholder interests and managing board dynamics.

One of the key challenges for Chairmen is balancing diverse stakeholder interests. This requires navigating differing viewpoints and making decisions that align with the best interests of the organisation as a whole. Stakeholders may include shareholders, employees, customers, and the wider community. The Chairman must carefully consider the needs and expectations of each stakeholder group and find a middle ground that promotes the long-term success and sustainability of the organisation.

Managing board dynamics is another significant challenge for Chairmen. The board consists of individuals with different personalities, backgrounds, and expertise. It is crucial for the Chairman to foster a positive working relationship among board members, encourage open and respectful communication, and resolve conflicts in a constructive manner. Effective collaboration and teamwork are essential for the board to function cohesively and make informed decisions that drive the organisation forward.

Addressing these challenges of balancing diverse stakeholder interests and managing board dynamics is vital for Chairmen to ensure the smooth functioning of the board and the overall success of the organisation.

Challenges Faced by ChairmenSolutions
Balancing diverse stakeholder interests– Prioritise open and transparent communication with stakeholders

– Seek input and feedback from various stakeholder groups

– Find common ground that aligns with the organisation’s values and objectives

Managing board dynamics– Foster a positive and inclusive board culture

– Encourage collaboration and teamwork

– Address conflicts and disagreements in a timely and constructive manner

The Evolution of the Chairman’s Role

The role of a Chairman has evolved over time, reflecting the changing dynamics of the modern business landscape. In the past, the Chairman’s role may have been more focused on formality and adherence to traditional governance practices. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards a more strategic and proactive role for Chairmen.

Chairmen are now expected to provide leadership, drive innovation, and adapt to changing market conditions. The modern business landscape demands Chairmen who can navigate complexities, anticipate challenges, and identify opportunities for growth and success. They play a pivotal role in shaping the strategic direction of the organisation and ensuring its long-term sustainability.

The Chairman’s expanded role includes not only overseeing board meetings and governance practices but also actively participating in strategic planning, risk management, and stakeholder engagement. They are responsible for fostering a culture of transparency, accountability, and ethical behaviour within the organisation.

The Chairman’s role in the modern business landscape goes beyond the boardroom. They are often seen as ambassadors for the organisation, representing its values and interests to external stakeholders, such as shareholders, investors, regulatory bodies, and the wider public. Their ability to build and maintain relationships with key stakeholders is crucial for the organisation’s reputation and credibility.

In summary, the Chairman’s role has evolved from a figurehead position to a strategic leadership role. Chairmen now play a crucial role in driving innovation, managing risks, and ensuring the organisation’s long-term success. Their ability to adapt, think strategically, and lead with integrity is essential in navigating the complex and competitive modern business landscape.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Chairman plays a crucial role in the success of an organisation. By leading the Board of Directors and steering the strategic direction of the company, they ensure effective governance and decision-making. The Chairman’s responsibilities include leading the board, overseeing strategic planning and oversight, appointing and evaluating the CEO, ensuring good corporate governance practices, and facilitating effective communication.

Their ability to inspire and guide the board towards a common goal, navigate diplomatic situations, and make sound decisions contributes to the overall success of the organisation. However, the Chairman also faces challenges, including balancing diverse stakeholder interests and managing board dynamics. These challenges require effective stakeholder management and fostering a positive working relationship among board members.

By staying proactive, driving innovation, and adapting to changing market conditions, Chairmen contribute to the long-term success of the organisation. The Chairman plays a vital role in creating a framework for constructive discussion, informed decision-making, and ensuring the organisation’s culture aligns with its goals and values.

If you think a Chairman might be right for you, get in touch via the contact form to see how Boardroom Advisors can help you.

FAQ

What is the role of the chairman of the board?

The chairman of the board is responsible for leading the board of directors and focusing on the effectiveness of the board.

What does a chairman of the board do?

The chairman of the board may preside over meetings, serve as the point of contact between the board and senior management, and ensure the board is responsible for its oversight role.

What is the difference between a chairman and a CEO?

The chairman of the board is typically responsible for leading the board of directors, while the CEO is responsible for the day-to-day management and operations of the company.

Can the chairman of the board also be the CEO?

Yes, in some cases, the chairman of the board may also hold the position of CEO, known as an executive chairman.

What is the significance of having separate roles for the chairman of the board and the CEO?

Having separate roles allows for a checks and balance system within a company, ensuring independent oversight and accountability in the decision-making process.

What is the responsibility of a non-executive chairman?

A non-executive chairman is a member of the board who is not involved in the day-to-day management of the company and typically provides independent leadership and oversight.

What is the role of the chairperson in a company?

 The chairperson is responsible for leading the board and ensuring the board fulfils its governance and oversight responsibilities.

How does the board chair ensure the effectiveness of the board?

The board chair often evaluates the board’s performance, leads the board in strategic discussions, and may establish frameworks for board management processes.

What are the main responsibilities of the chair of the board?

The chair of the board is responsible for setting the agenda, ensuring effective communication and decision-making within the board, and representing the board to external stakeholders.

Written by: John Courtney

John is highly ranked in the Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs list by City AM and is winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from techSPARK. He has been a Board Director himself for over 40 years and first started placing Non-Executive Directors over 25 years ago. John founded and ran seven of his own businesses including a Management Consultancy for 10 years, a Corporate Finance offering for 10 years and a mid-sized Digital Agency for another 10 years.