The need for sound judgment was stressed by all contributors throughout the survey and to a point where it raised the question whether there is a growing view that Chair’s need a greater degree of sector experience than has traditionally been the case.
Can one achieve the necessary level of engagement with the CEo if the Chair has no related sector experience? or can that level of engagement be constructed by the application of good generic chairing skills? While no one took an absolute position on this issue, views differed greatly.
The need for understanding the core drivers of value in a business was underlined by several contributors who stated strongly that, for example, they would not accept a chairmanship in an IT, banking or other highly technical business without direct sector experience. A smaller group outlined the principles and specifics of how they apply general skills of chairmanship in overcoming any shortfalls in sector experience, even when chairing highly technical businesses.
Two chief reasons given by those leaning towards at least related sector skills being necessary was the necessity of being able to detect trouble or underperformance at an early stage, and that good judgement in the context in which the business is operating is a necessary foundation to the all-important relationship of trust and partnership with the CEo.