Giving Compass' Take:

•  Jon Huggett and Mark Zitter, witting for Stanford Social Innovation Review, share their perspective on becoming a super board chair for a successful organization.

• How can effective chairs engage and encourage the effectiveness of boards? What can you do to recognize and create awareness of the importance of super board chairs?

• Learn more about the essential responsibilities of board chairs.

We both love to chair. Between us, we’ve chaired seven social enterprise boards. And while we can’t claim to be super chairs, we’ve seen some. We’ve also learned a few important lessons for ourselves the hard way.

Over time, we came to appreciate that the stakes involved in chairing were high and the effects of our work were long-lasting. Good boards deliver “governance”; super boards go much further and build a legacy. They not only focus on creating change and helping the organization survive in the near term, but also work to ensure that the institution endures shifts in leadership and delivers social impact that can cascade down the generations.

Chairs also need a unique set of capabilities. We’ve also both been chief executives and found that chairing a board was not the same as running an organization. Some skills transferred. Some did not. Chief executives need to be decisive. Chairs lead a decision-making team. Effectively navigating these circumstances and becoming a super chair requires a range of tactics. Here are nine of our favorites:

1. Create a Culture for Good Collective Decision-Making

2. Clarify Expectations

3. Create a Value Proposition for Each Member

4. Run a Great Meeting

5. Make the Executive Director’s Success Your Success

6. Continually Update Succession Plans

7. Demand Professional-Quality Recruiting

8. Pare Deadwood

9. Solicit Feedback

Super board chairs aren’t superhuman, but over time, they develop the superpower of leading as a peer, rather than a boss. In our own work as chairs, we strove to bring every brain into every meeting. We learned to talk less, listen more, and let the executive director shine.

Read the full article about becoming a super board chair by Jon Huggett and Mark Zitter at Stanford Social Innovation Review.