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The Role of the Chair: Unlearning CEO Behaviours

Updated: Oct 19, 2022

In the past decade the role of the Chair has evolved significantly, in UK governance and internationally. To that end Fidelio hosted a Chair Masterclass earlier in the year for those new to the role of Chair; and more recently we designed and moderated a panel for the Harvard Business School Club of London exploring “What the Chair Wants From His/Her Board”. Our panellists were a distinguished group of UK FTSE Chairs:

  • Mike Clasper CBE (Chair of Coats Group plc)

  • Bronwyn Curtis OBE (Chair of JPMorgan Asian Investment Trust plc)

  • Carl-Peter Forster (Chair of Chemring Group plc)

  • Sir Peter Gershon CBE (Chair of National Grid plc)

  • Jamie Pike (Chair of Cobham plc & Spirax-Sarco Engineering plc)

The purpose of the debate was to review the role of the Chair, how the Chair adds value and how the Chair builds a Board. On the evening we were joined by ca. 100 HBS Alumni, at very different stages of their careers, and all keen to understand more about Chair effectiveness with excellent questions for our panellists. Two questions stood out:

  1. Does the Chair need to have been a CEO to succeed in the role?

  2. What is the Chair’s contribution to sustainable success?

To answer these questions, in this Overture we draw upon some of the key observations from our panel of Chairs, as well as Fidelio’s insights from our Chair assignments in the UK and internationally.

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