How to Be a Good Board Chair

By Stanislav Shekshnia for Harvard Business Review

INSEAD’s Corporate Governance Centre have launched a research project asking the questions: What are good practices for the Board chair’s role, and how do they differ from the traditional practices of CEOs and top executives?

The research included a survey of 200 board chairs from 31 countries, 80 interviews with chairs, and 60 interviews with board members, shareholders, and CEOs. 

The research findings were published by Stanislav Shekshnia, a professor at INSEAD. He is also a senior partner at Ward Howell, a global human capital consultancy firm, and a board member at a number of public and private companies in Central and Eastern Europe. 

Stanislav explains that the chair is responsible for and represents the board, while the CEO is responsible for and is the public face of the company. The board has a collective leadership function, and the chair’s job is to enable the board to fulfil this. Good chairs must facilitate productive group discussions and recognise that they are responsible for making everyone on their boards a good director.

This distinction makes the chair’s job very different from the CEO’s, with specific skills and practices. Stanislav has distilled these requirements down into a set of eight principles, providing examples of leaders who apply them.

You can read the full article at A version of this article appeared in the March–April 2018 issue (pp.96–105) of Harvard Business Review.