Being a charity chair is a demanding role that requires skill, judgement and continuous honing of chairing skills. Constructive feedback is one of the best ways of helping chairs to be more effective, regardless of how experienced they are.
Chair feedback is an excellent precursor to performance feedback for all board members, as recommended in the recent Acevo commission on governance. However, it is invidious for board members to suggest that the chair would benefit from feedback, so chairs should always take the initiative and ask for it.
It should be done in a systematic way. All board members should be invited to respond to questions such as "what has the chair done well" and "what should he or she do differently in future?" The information should be gathered, summarised and given face-to-face by someone with skill in giving feedback. Ideally, this is a role for the vice-chair, but it can be carried out by a board member or an independent person.
Constructive feedback should be seen as a gift from the charity to the chair - a contribution to his or her personal development and a reward for all the time and effort that goes into performing the role effectively.