The board and the chief executive – the perfect match.

Are the board and the chief executive the perfect match?

Yes! AccordiThe board and the chief executive – the perfect match.ng to Governing with Intent (An inquiry into trustee board effectiveness Onboard/BWB 2015).

  • 74% of board members believe the chief executive’s performance is enhanced by the role of the chair compared to 87% of chief executives who believe the chief executives  performance is enhanced by the role of the chair.
  • 65% of board members thought the chief executive supported the board to govern effectively compared to 35% of board members who did think the chief executive supported the board to govern effectively.
  • 81% of board members thought there is candour in the relationship between the chief executive and the board, compared to 19% of the board did not think there was candour.

These statistics speak to the importance of the role of the Chair in maintaining board effectively and demonstrating leadership.   The Chair has to be adequately equipped to perform this role.

Worryingly that the Association of Chairs (AoC) has published a survey that shows that Chairs are not receiving the support they need to perform their role as efficiently and effectively as needed.   According to AoC:


  • 34% of Chairs had an induction (the most basic form of support).
  • 37% accessed training (two thirds were funded by their organisations and a third paid for themselves)
  • 16% had any mentoring or coaching.
  • Fewer than 50% had assessed any kind of development support in the last 12 months.
  • Many Chairs restricted themselves to any free sources of support.
This pessimistic picture has to change if there is to be high performing governance. Chairs must be able to access the support they need and their organisations have got to invest in their performance. It is only with fully equipped Chairs that Chief Executives can be matched with the perfect partners to support effective leadership.

Leadership Relationships – for Better or Worse ( Part 2 )

What  are the areas for attention in a leadership partnership?

Tesse Akpeki LeadershipA need for shared goals

A healthy level of commitment to achieve the strategic purpose

A way to work out what is important to either party and how to best communicate this – feedback is critical.

A need for appreciation , recognition, praise and acknowledgement

Ways to develop robust communication – a safe place to share, build trust and confidence

A thorny issue – when is the appropriate time for the pat on the back and strokes and how is this balanced against being a critical friend giving constructive feedback?

How can each partner talk to each other and achieve shared goals for the benefit of the organisation? Continue reading

Lost in Translation: Finding a Shared Understanding, Commitment and Passion for Excellence

This is a critical element for a Chair and Chief Executive

Ten questions you can ask as you put the spotlight on this crucial relationship.

In the absence of an effective Chair/Chief Executive partnership, the meeting of minds proves difficult if not impossible. Knowing that their partnership is a cornerstone of organisational success, many Chair/Chief Executives are actively engaged in seeking better ways to work together.

Speaking to an experienced Chief Executive throws light on this. She says ‘I cannot stress enough the importance of a good working relationship with the Chair. I would have found it difficult to lead the organisation without the constant support and encouragement of a series of dedicated individuals who worked with me in the Chair role. They shared my passion for the mission, gave me the benefit of their expertise, worked with me to improve the organisation and above all helped me to build a solid connection with the trustee board. I couldn’t have done my job – or I couldn’t have done it half as well – without them’.

She is indeed lucky and wise. Lucky to have had the experience of being supported by good Chairs. Wise to recognise and acknowledge the invaluable support a Chair can bring. In my experience the connection between the Chief Executive and Chair is an important part of what makes voluntary and community sector organisations strong, resilient and effective. When the board and the Chair challenge the Chief Executive constructively and in a supportive manner, it can force him to engage with governance in a way that enriches his work and makes him a more responsible executive. The dialogue becomes the point of contact between the how, the what and the why of the organisation. The effect of the work together is synergy, a combination that is far stronger than the component parts.

Monitoring and evaluating the governance practices and relationships can be resourceful as both partners with support of the board and the Senior Management Team (if there is one in play) begin or continue the process of building a Chief Executive/Chair /board relationship that really serves the organisation.

It may be helpful if the Chief Executive can reflect on the following questions

1. How satisfied are you that the Chair understands her responsibility for leading the board effectively?

2. How satisfied are you that the Chair actively leads the evolution of the board in relation to its composition, competencies, relationships to meet current and future challenges.

3. How satisfied are you that you have a good working relationship with board as a whole?

4. As Chief Executive what can you do to work with the Chair to enhance the governance of the organisation?

5. Does the board effectively liaise with you in your role as Chief Executive and with the Directors on matters relating to strategy, governance and executive performance?

The Chair may find it helpful to reflect on the following questions:

6. Does the board undertake regular reviews of the Chief Executive’s performance and development?

7. As Chair if you undertake the review of the Chief Executive’s performance, do you report the outcome of the performance review to the board? How supportive is the board in bringing out the best in the Chief Executive?

8. How satisfied are you that you ensure that the board adopts a relevant and appropriate agenda for consideration at Board meetings that engenders the engagement of the Chief Executive, the Executive Team and board members?

9. How satisfied are you that you effectively manage discussion of agenda items allowing sufficient time for complex issues and for robust dialogue. Do you encourage active participation and engagement in meetings by all board members?

10. Finally, as facilitator, how satisfied are you that you ensure there is a shared sense of the decisions that have been made? Do you clarify and confirm decisions made and actions to be taken at the end of discussions?

Building a strong and vibrant relationship between the Chair and the Chief Executive is a continuous journey and takes a high level of commitment and investment, but like any journey that is worth making, it is more than worth its value in gold.