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7 traits needed to be an effective chairman

Central to the effectiveness of a Board and the wellbeing of an organisation.is the Chairman’s role plays in managing relationships. 


Gary Flowers is a master at negotiating different  agendas and getting people to sing from the same hymn sheet.


Chairman of the institute  Of Sport Of NSW  and  6 other companies – Gary has had an illustrious career as National Managing Partner/CEO of Sparke Helmore Lawyers, Managing Director/CEO of Australia Rugby Union, and Chief Operating Officer for the Mirvac Group [ASX:MGR].


He shares with us the 7 traits a Chairman has to nurture to do this. 


1.    Humility – a good Chairman knows who they work for & is ultimately accountable to the Board & shareholders of the organisation which they lead.


2.    Challenge & support – a Chairman should know what the mission of the Board is, how to stay focused on it, puts in place a Board program that advances this & measures progress. No two companies are alike & the Board’s mission may vary from one organisation to another depending on its maturity, regulatory context, industry & ownership structure.


3.    Empathy – when working with a CEO & the Board, a Chairman needs empathy to build trust & rapport. You know when someone has true empathy by their line of questioning – they are curious & intuitive without being sympathetic.


4.    Tone – a Chairman’s personal interaction determines the tone & culture of the Boardroom. Focus on being present by way of your approachability & remaining non-judgmental. Regular debate & communication will build the collective’s bond therefore listen before you respond & perhaps allow the discussion to evolve before you become involved; be prepared to guide rather direct – there is a difference.


5.    Lead by example – an effective Chairman sets clear behaviours standards for directors & ensures adherence to them by providing feedback, encouraging appropriate behaviours & dealing with misconduct in a strict, but constructive manner. Resolve conflicts by being fair, consistent & attentive to individual Board members, but keeping in mind the ultimate mission & long-term interests of the organisation. There is no doubt that standards set in the Boardroom can & do impact the organisation.


6.    Accountability – a Chairman needs to take their personal accountability seriously. Not only are they responsible to deliver the best outcome to the stakeholders, but deliver the best version of themselves at every interaction point.


7.    Development oriented – now days, Boards are dealing with issues that affect their organisation’s sustainability like cybercrime, disruption & talent management. It’s a Chairman’s responsibility to not only personally keep abreast of these challenges but also the Boards as well & able to engage with management as to how the organisation will meet these challenges.


As a Chairman, leading the Board is an increasingly important role, requiring subtlety, maturity & a strong focus on the Board program & agenda. 


Creating an environment where there is mutual trust & commitment will result in effective relationships & a major part in delivering sustainable competitive advantage for the organisation.


Posted on February 7, 2019

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