The role of the board chair

A Credit Union’s top volunteer has seven leadership domains

by Les Wallace, Ph.D.

Congratulations! You’re now the chairperson, contemplating becoming chairperson or wishing to push your current chairperson to improved responsibility. Whatever your motivation, a review of the crucial responsibilities of the board chairperson will be helpful.

Let’s set some leadership context first. The chairperson role is a delicate balance of servant leadership and voice for accountability. Servant leadership is not “I am the smartest one leadership.” You serve at the pleasure of other board members and must be inclusive with your leadership, responsive to their needs, accepting of where they are, yet a force for moving them forward. You must facilitate civil, yet deep dialogue on crucial topics and help the board stay focused on a vital few important issues at each meeting. Servant leaders are always prepared, appreciative of all board views and good coaches to the board and individual members.

On the other hand, when board or individual board member performance slacks, the chair must be the voice of accountability.

You’ll find many articles and book chapters on the chairperson’s role, so some deeper study may be needed, particularly if your board has unique issues. Overall, there are seven domains for chairperson leadership:

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