Good Governance: The chair must prioritize facilitating over speaking

The role of the board’s top officer is to be both authoritative and supportive.

Michael Daigneault, CCD, CEO at Quantum Governance, tells a story of a judge who served on the board of a large credit union. At board meetings, he would speak up, be heavily involved and opine freely. During a governance assessment, it was discovered that his fellow board members were nervous to speak after him or engage in a robust discourse when they disagreed due to his position—no one wanted to tell the judge he was wrong. He didn’t even realize the impact he had on his board colleagues by simply stating his viewpoint.

When you think about it, people respond to board chairs similarly to how these directors responded to the judge. Generally, no one wants to tell them they’re wrong.

Bezemer, Nicholson and Pugliese in their 2018 study entitled, “The influence of board chairs on director engagement: A case-based exploration of boardroom decision-making,” found that a board chair who is too heavily involved and too vocal in boardroom discussions is less effective than a chair who prioritizes facilitating discussion first and offering his or her opinion second.



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