Who Appoints a Chairman of the Board? 

In corporate governance, selecting a chairman is a pivotal decision that significantly influences the organisation’s leadership and strategic direction. The chairman, serving as the presiding figure over the board meetings, sets agendas and ensures the representation of shareholders’ interests, playing a crucial role in steering the organisation towards its objectives. The appointment process, varying across companies, underscores the necessity of placing a skilled and experienced individual at the helm to navigate the company successfully. This decision, central to the governance and future trajectory of the company, underscores the importance of a meticulous selection process to appoint a chairman who can effectively guide the organisation towards achieving its goals.

Key Takeaways

  • The chairman of the board is responsible for presiding over board meetings and representing the interests of shareholders.
  • The appointment of a chairman is typically done through a majority vote by the board members.
  • The chairman plays a crucial role in overseeing day-to-day operations, setting corporate strategies, and ensuring compliance with regulations.
  • Effective communication, trust, and respect are vital for a chairman’s success in leading the board and promoting good governance.
  • An experienced and skilled chairman can greatly influence the success and future of an organisation.

What Does the Chairman of the Board Do?

The Chairman of the board plays a crucial role in shaping the board’s culture and work, collaborating with the CEO or executive director. Their primary responsibility is to provide leadership and ensure the effectiveness of the board in directing the organisation. The chairman serves as a facilitator, encouraging collaboration and fostering a culture of corporate governance.

The chairman’s role involves setting the board’s direction, priorities, and influence. They oversee the management of officers and are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the organisation. The chairman also plays a pivotal role in planning and overseeing board meetings. They work closely with senior management to liaise with the board and assist in the development and implementation of corporate strategies and goals.

The chairman’s responsibilities extend beyond board meetings. They have a vital role in board performance oversight and overall governance responsibilities. This includes providing committee direction, conducting evaluations, and ensuring continuous learning and development for board members. The chairman also plays a key role in succession planning to ensure a smooth transition in leadership.

Ethics and corporate culture are important areas of focus for the chairman. They promote a strong corporate culture and ensure that the organisation operates with integrity and ethical practices. The chairman represents the best interests of the organisation and its stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, and the wider community.

In terms of structure, organisations may have different types of chair positions, such as an executive chair or a non-executive chair. The separation of roles between the chairman and the CEO is important for effective governance and accountability. The chairman holds the CEO accountable for the day-to-day management of the business, while they focus on their governance and leadership responsibilities.

Overall, the chairman of the board is a central figure in corporate governance, providing crucial leadership and guidance. Their role encompasses a wide range of responsibilities that contribute to the success and sustainability of the organisation.

Introduction to the Appointment Process

The appointment of a Chairman of the Board is a critical decision in any organisation, symbolising the intersection of governance, leadership, and corporate strategy. This process is governed by a combination of corporate laws, governance policies, and the specific bylaws of the organisation. The Chairman plays a pivotal role in shaping the direction of the company, making their selection a matter of strategic importance.

The Appointment of a Chairman of the Board

Role of the Board of Directors

The Board of Directors plays a central role in appointing the Chairman. In many organisations, the board members collectively decide on their leader, who will then serve as the Chairman. This decision is typically based on a consensus or a formal vote among the directors, reflecting the board’s collective judgement on who is best suited to lead.

Shareholder Involvement

In some companies, particularly publicly traded ones, shareholders also have a say in the appointment of the Chairman and 7% of privately held companies say that their relationship with the Chair is key. This might occur directly through a vote at the annual general meeting or indirectly by electing directors who share their preferences for the leadership of the board.

Corporate Governance Policies

Corporate governance policies provide a framework for the appointment process, ensuring that it is conducted fairly and transparently. These policies may outline specific criteria for candidates, the role of a nominating committee, and the procedure for the election or appointment of the Chairman.

Criteria for Selecting a Chairman

Leadership Qualities and Experience

Candidates for Chairman are typically evaluated based on their leadership qualities, experience in similar roles, and their understanding of the company’s business. Their ability to command respect, facilitate board discussions, and drive strategic decisions is crucial.

Alignment with Company Values and Vision

The alignment of a candidate’s values and vision with those of the company is essential. A Chairman whose vision aligns with the company’s strategic goals can effectively lead the board and support the CEO and management team.

Stakeholder Considerations

Stakeholder interests are also a significant consideration. The ideal Chairman can balance the needs and expectations of various stakeholders, including shareholders, employees, customers, and the wider community.

The Process of Appointing a Chairman

Nominating Committee Role

Many organisations utilise a nominating committee to oversee the selection process. This committee is responsible for identifying suitable candidates, evaluating their qualifications, and recommending nominees to the full board.

Voting Procedures

The actual appointment often involves a voting process, where board members vote on the nominated candidates. The specific procedures for this process are typically outlined in the company’s bylaws or governance policies.

Announcement and Transition

Once appointed, the new Chairman’s role is formally announced to the shareholders, employees, and the public. A transition period may follow, especially if the new Chairman is not previously a member of the board, to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities.

Challenges in Appointing a Chairman

Appointing a Chairman can come with its challenges, including finding a candidate with the right balance of experience and vision, ensuring the selection process is transparent and fair, and managing the expectations of various stakeholders.

  • Finding the Right Balance of Experience and Vision:
    • Identifying a candidate who not only has a comprehensive background of relevant experience but also possesses a visionary outlook that aligns with the company’s strategic goals.
  • Ensuring Transparency and Fairness in the Selection Process:
    • Maintaining a transparent process to build trust among stakeholders by clearly communicating the criteria, process steps, and rationale behind the decision.
    • Guarding against biases to ensure fairness, where all candidates are considered equally based on their qualifications and fit with the company’s needs.
  • Managing Stakeholder Expectations:
    • Balancing diverse expectations from shareholders, employees, and the board, each of whom may prioritise different qualities in a Chairman and have varying visions for the company’s direction.
  • Adapting to Evolving Business Environments:
    • Selecting a Chairman capable of navigating both current challenges and future industry trends, ensuring the role’s effectiveness over time amidst dynamic business landscapes.


The appointment of a Chairman of the Board is a complex but crucial process that can significantly impact the organisation’s future direction and success. It requires careful consideration of candidates’ leadership qualities, their alignment with company values, and the ability to navigate stakeholder interests. By following a structured and transparent process, organisations can ensure that they select a Chairman capable of leading the board effectively and guiding the company towards achieving its strategic objectives. 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.


Who’s job is it to appoint a chairman?

The chairman is typically elected or appointed by the members of the board of directors or shareholders of the company or organisation.

What does the chairman of the board do?

The chairman of the board plays a crucial role in shaping the board’s culture and work. They collaborate with the CEO or executive director, provide leadership, ensure effective governance, oversee board meetings, set the agenda, and represent the best interests of the organisation and its stakeholders.

What are the qualities of an effective chair?

An effective chair possesses qualities such as strong leadership, vision, humility, oversight, communication skills, trust, respect, good listening ability, diplomacy, and a focus on governance and decision-making that contribute to the success of the board and the organisation.

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.