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

Listen 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