How Important Is the Relationship Between the Chair of the Board and the CEO?

Foto: Vardan Papikyan

Foto: Vardan Papikyan

The relationship between the Chair of the Board (COB) and the CEO is typically discussed when speaking about responsibility and consequences. If major mistakes have been made, who should take the responsibility and potentially leave the company: the COB or the CEO? Do they support or blame each other?

In my experience, the relationship between the COB and the CEO is just as crucial when making decisions about the company’s direction and strategy. Depending on the quality of that relationship, a lot of value can be created or wasted. This relationship is also a subject to consideration in strategic discussions in various Board rooms. I have witnessed in my own experience how a positive relationship between the COB and the CEO has elevated strategic discussions to a whole new level. I have also seen the opposite, when this relationship for various reasons is not ideal, the strategic work suffers and delivers little value.

One can also discuss how much weight should be put on the personality match between the two, when Election Committees and others involved, select candidates for these roles. On the other hand, these relationships should not be too close either. Selecting the two candidates who are not too much alike can give its benefits, too, as it allows them to complement each other both in terms of personality and expertise. If the two collaborate well AND have complementing profiles, it can create real value and strong results. Family owned businesses provide an extra level of complexity when selecting candidates for various roles, and require a certain awareness to make wise choices for a well functioning collaboration (read more about the topic here)

In this kind of relationship, just as in any other, you have the trust, mutual respect and openness as the essential foundation of a good relationship and collaboration where the two parties make each other better.

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