We often work with Chairs on both the buy and sell-side in our work, and over the years we have worked with people who have had invaluable input to the boards they serve on.
Here are our thoughts on the top ten things a good Chair should do for your business:
- Help the board and senior team plan for the future of the business – what’s your goal? How are you going to get there? How will you action your plan?
- Help you understand where you stand at present, and help you to put in place and interpret your management information to aid your growth.
- Act as a point of escalation for the CEO. It can be very helpful for a CEO to be able to say “I need to pass that by my Chair / board” both internally and externally. It’s a good way of demonstrating that decisions are made by a group, not only one person.
- Help a CEO to appoint the right senior management team or board of directors to help the business to achieve its goals.
- Have experience of the things you want to do as a business. So if you want to attract investment or exit your business it’s important your Chair has experience of doing those things.
- Be a sounding board for new ideas.
- Understand your industry and the challenges it faces.
- Help you to find the right people to broaden your network.
- Understand the commercial realities of running a business and help provide direction within that context (i.e. they understand the importance of meeting targets and focusing on business development).
- Represent your business to third parties should you need them to (i.e. potential investors, partners, potential employees).
Specifically for CEOs, a Chair is a person you are able to have completely confidential conversations with outside of the senior executives in the business. They should be able to help you see the wood for the trees, and help you focus on what is most important at any one point in time. They should be able to help provide direction, but importantly they are not there to make decisions for you.
A Chair should be able to challenge you and put forward an alternative, outside, perspective. They need to be able to talk to and support your employees when needed as well as assist with helping you get the right people into your business.
In addition to this, a key responsibility of a Chair is leading the board in discussions of proposals put forward by the senior executive team, including on strategy, risk management, governance, financial reporting, and M&A activity. Chairs are crucial in helping companies to capture value during the M&A / fundraising process and reduce the risk of failure. Therefore, by taking these points into consideration and appointing the right Chairperson, it will improve the chances of any M&A transaction, if pursued, and maximise the value for all participants.
If you’re ready to sell your business, want to raise funds, or just have a question, please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org.