The Guidance Report on Board Effectiveness issued by the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) notes that the chairperson of a meeting fulfils an important leadership role, particularly in creating the conditions for overall committee and individual director effectiveness; a good board is created by a good chairperson.
The chairperson can be simply defined as the person who is chosen to preside over a meeting to ensure that the meeting is conducted fairly and properly.
The duties of the chairperson are largely the same whether at general meetings or at meetings of directors. The following points give an overview of the role of the chairperson.
Qualities Of A Good Chairperson
- Ethical – The chairperson should ensure that s/he fully understands the mission statement of the company and does her/his best to reflect the principles and beliefs of the company throughout the meeting.
- Diligent – The chairperson should have a good knowledge of the agenda in advance of the meeting, make sure that the agenda reflects the purpose of the meeting and ensure that key points are discussed. The company secretary and other directors / committee members should be consulted beforehand on the business to be discussed at the meeting.
- Punctual – The chairperson should be good timekeeper and aim to start the meeting on time and keep to the schedule as closely as possible.
- Fair – The chairperson should be fair and impartial, allowing all those attending the meeting to have a chance to express their views and opinions. The chairperson should facilitate discussion of each agenda item and ascertain, if necessary, any items that are approved or resolved.
- Enthusiastic – The chairperson should be approachable, encourage those present to participate during the meeting and make all members or directors feel welcomed and valued.
- In control – The chairperson performs a very important leadership role and should have the ability to appropriately control any members of the meeting who are overly aggressive or forceful when it comes to their opinions, whilst allowing and encouraging quieter members to express their opinions. In addition, the chairperson should ensure that the directors receive appropriate induction, development and regular reviews.
Practical Points For A Good Chairperson
- Liaise with the company secretary in advance of the meeting to ensure that relevant reports have been received and accompany the agenda. All documents are to be circulated in sufficient time before the meeting.
- Always ensure that the quorum is present.
- Follow the agenda so that those present at the meeting are able to easily keep track of what topic will next be up for discussion. Also ensure that those present are thoroughly finished discussing one topic before moving on to the next.
- Aim to remain impartial and avoid becoming involved if a debate is taking place among the members of the meeting.
- Close the meeting after all the matters at hand have been discussed.
- Work with the company secretary to ensure that any action points raised at a meeting are completed between meetings.
To conclude, a good chairperson should always aim to be ethical, fair, diligent and in control of what happens at any meeting over which they are presiding. On a somewhat smaller scale, attributes like punctuality, enthusiasm and sticking closely to the agenda will help any chairperson to properly oversee a meeting.
For more blog posts on company directors and company secretaries, please visit our directors section.