Board chair

A chair of the board is required to lead the board, ensure the board operates effectively, maintain a strategic focus, monitor overall performance and manage its principal relationships. As chair you must ensure board members, the minister, stakeholders and the community have confidence in your leadership and in the functions of your board. 

To do this you should be familiar with the business of the public sector body and its CEO, the nature of the minister’s portfolio and the interests of stakeholders. 

The role of chair includes: 

  • providing leadership and developing board members as a cohesive and effective team 
  • building an effective board with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience 
  • establishing the board charter 
  • ensuring relevant information and policies are brought to the attention of board members to support the board’s performance, objectives and governance framework 
  • leading board meetings efficiently, encouraging members rather than directing them and seeking consensus when making decisions 
  • leading by example in demonstrating behaviours desired from board members, including professionalism, punctuality, respect and integrity 
  • shaping the meeting agenda in relation to goals, strategy, budget and executive performance 
  • motivating board members and, where appropriate, dealing with underperformance 
  • managing risk and reporting concerns to the responsible minister 
  • working with the CEO to deliver the public sector body’s corporate plan and annual report. 

As Chair, you are  the board’s primary liaison between the minister and CEO. The chair will also need to develop effective working relationships with relevant ministerial officers, other senior officers of the public sector body, and the board’s secretary or executive officer.

To balance the competing priorities and pressures of relevant stakeholders and effectively achieve the board’s objectives, the chairperson needs to be personable, patient and pragmatic. Other beneficial traits include polite assertive confidence, political nous, an understanding of the history and culture of the public sector body and its stakeholders, and strong presentation, negotiation and facilitation skills.

Board chairs should also feel comfortable contacting the Public Sector Commission for advice and support, particularly when navigating complex issues relating to board performance.

Page last updated 23 May 2017