Characteristics of a good chairperson

The chairperson plays a key role on any voluntary management committee.  Below are summarised some of the key qualities, skills and knowledge that are characteristic of an effective chairperson.

Qualities, skills and knowledge

A good chairperson will:

  • speak clearly and succinctly;
  • be sensitive to the feelings of members;
  • be impartial and objective;
  • start and finish on time;
  • be approachable;
  • have an understanding of the voluntary and community sector;
  • be tactful;
  • have knowledge of the organisation's key networks;
  • be able to delegate;
  • be a good strategist;
  • be a strong networker;
  • be good at team building;
  • consider succession planning across the board;
  • plan for skills development of themselves and the committee;
  • have experience of management committee involvement;
  • show interest in member's viewpoints;
  • have sound knowledge of the organisation's work;
  • have an ability to respect confidences; and
  • ensure decisions are taken and recorded.

Do's and Don'ts

A good chairperson will: A good chairperson will not:
  • Make all members feel valued
  • Be the person who talks most at the meetings
  • Strive for consensus, using his/her casting vote sparingly
  • Make all the decisions
  • Lsten to others
  • Allow one or two people to dominate meetings
  • Encourage new faces onto committee
  • Cut people out of discussions
  • Plan for the future
  • Allow meetings to become unproductive
  • Make new members feel welcome
  • Make people feel foolish or useless
  • Allow others to take responsibility
  • Force people to contribute to discussions
  • Keep calm
  • Lose his/her temper
  • Know when to stand down
  • Stay too long