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Across the world, business cultures have the important topic of board leadership exactly backward. For most jobs, we vet candidates based on their experience, training, and previous success for a position. Only after rising to the top through a tough winnowing process do we name the final candidate to the role. Over the past century, we’ve developed an infrastructure of business schools, MBA programs, professional certifications, and consultants to professionalize business leadership.

When it comes to serving as leader of a board of directors, however, it may just be because you own a majority position. You may be a retired chief executive or current chief of the company. You may have business leadership experience but not necessarily any in leading board.  You may be a friend of a friend, a relative, or a representative of a state ministry.  But, whatever the culture, the economy, or the type of business, proven skill in leading and managing a board of directors is not what puts you in that role at the head of the table.
Our program will change that. We examine the differing types of board leaders and explore the qualities that make someone effective in the role.

What life and career skills should you seek in selecting a leader for your board? What are the top challenges of board leadership, and how do you master them? What goes into shaping a board chair job description?  And how do you evaluate the person at the head of your board table?

  • How most companies leave the board leadership role to happenstance and corporate politics?
  • What are the real qualities needed in an effective board leader?
  • What elements do a practical board chair job description need (and what isn’t needed)?
  • How would you as a board chair handle these actual boardroom challenges?
  • How does a board chair divide power with the chief executive (and what are the most common flash points)?

Top corporate executives rise to their leadership positions through a long, tough competitive process of training, experience, and achievement. But when it comes to chairing a board of directors, none of these qualifiers apply. In truth, most board leaders come to the role without education or experience in this unique position. Too often the result is board mismanagement, boardroom disputes, inefficiency, poor decisions, and even legal liability.

  • Corporate board members
  • Nonprofit corporate leaders
  • Private and family firm board members
  • Corporate secretaries
  • Corporate counsel
  • Venture capital and private equity partners

Ralph Ward is an internationally-recognized speaker, writer, and advisor on the role of boards of directors, how “benchmark” boards excel, setting personal boardroom goals, and the future of governance worldwide.  
Ward is publisher of the online newsletter Boardroom INSIDER, the worldwide source for practical, first-hand tips for better boards and directors (  He also edits The Corporate Board magazine ( the nation's leading corporate governance journal, with subscribers who are directors and senior officers across the U.S. and in 27 foreign countries.
He is author of six acclaimed books on board and governance for today’s corporate boards, the challenges they face, and the answers they need to excel: • Board Seeker Guidebook (2018) • Boardroom Q&A (2011) • The New Boardroom Leaders (2008) • Saving the Corporate Board (2003) • Improving Corporate Boards (2000) • 21st Century Corporate Board (1997)

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