Role of the chair

Within a sports organisation the role title 'chair' can mean different things depending on the structure of the organisation.

Some organisations will have a president to do public facing duties such as providing representation at award ceremonies, functions, meetings, in the press and generally to be the public face of the organisation. This role should not be assumed as part of the role of the chair. 

Usually the chair will be elected or appointed as set out in the governing document for the organisation.

The main responsibility for the chair of the organisation is to run the board meetings and lead the organisation in terms of strategy, vision and mission.

In addition, some chairs take on a number of additional roles. The chair can only take on these additional roles if they have been authorised to do so. This authorisation might be set out in the governing document or related procedure, or agreed by the other trustees in a role description or some other document.

Additional roles of the chair sometimes include:

  • supporting and supervising the head of staff or chief executive and acting as a channel of communication between board and staff
  • acting as a figurehead for the organisation (this would be where an organisation does not have a public figurehead such as a president)
  • leading on the development of the board and ensuring its decisions are implemented
  • taking urgent action (but not decision-making unless authorised) between board meetings when it isn’t possible or practical to hold a meeting.

The roles above are not exclusively roles of the chair but it is very important to establish what type of chair your organisation needs as this will influence the type of person you are looking for.

Where an organisation has a presidential figure then the chair becomes a strategic leadership role. In contrast, where an organisation does not have a president, the chair can be more of a public face for the organisation. In this case it is crucial to ensure the board also gets strategic leadership either through the chair or through a deputy chair.

The relationship and distinction between the chair and the CEO is vital and further information on this distinction can be found in the downloads below and on the pages in this section which can be navigated through the left hand menu.

Model job description for a chair in a charitable organisation.
Model job description for a chair produced by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
Model job description for a deputy chair produced by the Sport and Recreation Alliance.
Power Point presentation - There for Chairs by Linda Laurance at the CEO leadership convention.
Notes from the presentation of Linda Laurance - There for Chairs - at the CEO leadership convention.
Role and responsibilities of the board, individual board members, the chairman and treasurer.
Role description for chairman of British Fencing.
Association of Chief Executives and Voluntary Organisations toolkit for CEO and chair relations.

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