Checklist: Appointing a chair

By governance expert Mike Hudson

Mike Hudson
Mike Hudson

The appointment of a new chair of an organisation is a critical moment in its life. A good appointment can bring energy and application. The wrong appointment can lead to torpor or even strife.

Most appointments need to start with the constitution of the organisation. What does it say about the appointment of the chair and about the terms trustees may serve? The most promising trustee may be running out of time.

Some constitutions allow chairs to serve an extra term and some are altogether less prescriptive. Neither length of service nor being the vice-chair are necessarily the best qualifications to become chair. Indeed, it's worth making it clear that there is no presumption of this preferment when a vice-chair is appointed.

Recruiting both externally and from among existing trustees can be energising, but also costly and time-consuming. Trustees need to agree the overall approach to recruitment and designate one person with the skills and time to lead the search.

Involving the chief executive is important. A confident chief executive will want a chair who is challenging as well as supportive; and, better still, a joy to work with.

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