17. The Key Roles of the Chair

“As chairman, the most important thing is to give every member of your boards or councils the opportunity to express their views and have them considered, without allowing the discussion to become rambling and unproductive.  You must keep the focus on a coherent discussion, and you may need to construct an outcome everyone can live with.”

Michael Robinson
Former Chair of Scotch College


The Chair is responsible for leadership of the Board and for the efficient organisation and conduct of the Board. The Chair should facilitate the effective contribution of all Board Members and promote constructive and respectful relations between Board Members and between the Board and management.

It is the responsibility of the Chair to:

  • effectively lead the Board and chair all Board meetings
  • recruit the right people to the Board, ensuring they have the right mix of skills, knowledge and experience
  • ensure that new Board Members match the culture of the Board but not to the point of hindering diversity
  • ensure that new Board Members gain from an effective induction program
  • manage the Board in the discharge of its duties
  • manage the frequency and agenda of Board meetings
  • act as a facilitator of relationships within the Board
  • be the prime conduit between the Board and the Principal
  • publicly support the Principal.

In addition to the skills required of all Board Members, the Chair should possess:

  • meeting management skills
  • time management skills
  • leadership skills
  • the ability to manage and construct agendas
  • the ability to bring the Board and management together to work effectively as a team
  • the ability to ensure stakeholders are adequately informed.

It is vital that the Chair of the Board gives an appropriate commitment to the job and allocates sufficient time to doing the job well. The Chair should be conscious of not being overburdened with other duties that are likely to hinder effective performance of the Chair’s role. The Chair has an ongoing duty to ensure that he or she is adequately informed about the activities of the School and its financial situation.

A list of sample behavioural questions that may be useful for the selection process of the Chair can be found at Appendix 1.