The Chairman is the single biggest determinant of a Board’s effectiveness: he or she has the primary role in determining its focus, sets the tone for discussions and leads its composition.
Importantly, it is a demanding and difficult role that requires a set of skills that is different in many respects from those that underpin a successful executive career, in particular as CEO. Great CEOs don’t necessarily make good Chairmen, and equally the best Chairmen may not have been CEOs themselves.
Whilst sector experience can be valuable (in particular in technically complex areas, like financial services), it is ultimately a less important determinant of success in the role than having the right characteristics to be a great Chairman: combining outstanding business judgement with a high degree of emotional intelligence, sophisticated team leadership skills, calmness under fire and the integrity to put ‘company’ before ‘self’.
When working with Boards on Chairman succession, we place particular emphasis on defining the candidate brief – ensuring alignment around the key business challenges faced, the expectations of the Chairman in terms of role and time commitment, and the credentials and capabilities that will be required.
We then work on a highly confidential basis to identify and assess potential candidates and help our clients to manage the critical and sensitive process of selecting the right successor – whether from the existing Board or from outside.
Examples of some of our work can be found in the Case Studies section.