Boards Need Chairman to be Trained

04th Jul , 2017

Moving from a director position to the Chairman of the board can be a big step and can be made easier and more effective, if the Chairman has been trained for this position.

The Board needs to agree on the basic focus for the Chairman and devolve any extra authorities or resources they may need to effectively carry out their new duties. The level of support for the chairman is critical both with sufficient resources, such as secretarial, legal, report generation in time and the appropriate level for the board meetings. These include publishing of board materials and timetable, organizing venues, accommodation and travel for board members and other attendees, support from the other board members to adequately prepare for meetings, and follow up on agreed tasks. These can be adopted similarly by the senior leadership team.

The Chairman must ensure that the Board focuses its energy and wisdom on:

  • Appropriate matters requiring decisions
  • Is competent to come to suitable conclusions
  • Once board decisions are made
  • then authority to implement must be passed to the MD or CEO with a clear resolution.

The Chair can either be non-executive or an executive. Each have differing levels of authority over the management and operational decision-making processes. Again, these authority levels need to be clearly established or there will likely be management override and a disconnect between the board members and the operational staff. This is an area that needs chairman training to work effectively, see my quote below:

“There is no distinction in purpose between a board’s and management’s role. The board directs the business and oversee the interests of shareholders, while the strategies as agreed by the board are implemented by management. The chairman’s role is to lead the board and ensure appropriate disciplines are in place for the board and to distinguish between the board and management’s roles. The MD or CEO provides leadership to the management and the chairman sees that the CEO does what the board expects. The board does have a collective responsibility on this, but should leave most of the dialogue between the chairman and CEO or MD and only take collective action, if this does not work.” David Cartney, International Business Mentors 2017.

Board Reviews

The Chairman needs to implement Board Reviews as a Learning Process and requires honest & objective review of the board’s wrong or poor decisions or process, so that lessons can be learnt from these. This is a periodic review of the board processes and includes how directors should and do behave and the way that information is presented and considered. And how to improve board effectiveness. The Chairman should mentor the directors in all of the above.

Boards Making Decisions

Boards make judgments on a wide range of issues which effect the organization and these are based on various pieces of information and past experiences. All of this Information must be relevant and carefully weighed within the context of the required judgments. The Chairman must ensure that decisions that follow these judgements are based on the relevant and collective opinions, knowledge, attitudes and experience of the board members and for the best interests of the company.

Making collective board decisions, running the board business effectively, reviewing the boards own performance are only part of the arsenal of skills that the Chairman requires to do the job properly. Whatever the current level of these skills in the current or aspirant Chairman, these can be enhanced through the International Business Mentors’ Chairman training. International Business Mentors’ Chairman training is highly confidential, One-on-One and is delivered over 8 meetings or modules, with reading and preparation in between. It includes the Chairman’s input to and the boards responsibilities with strategy, monitoring performance, shareholders and stakeholders, board composition, management, relationships and effectiveness. This Chairman’s training is tailored for the specific Chairman (or the aspirant Chairman).

David Cartney July 2017.

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