The CEO and chair relationship

Sound governance and dynamic leadership are essential qualities in successful third sector organisations. When the CEO and Chair relationship functions well, it provides a supportive environment for the CEO and allows the organisation to flourish. When the relationship breaks down it can have a cascade effect to the rest of the organisation.

ACEVO has a number of resources you may find useful when considering your relationship with your Chair. Prevention is always the best tactic. A relationship where both CEO and Chair are clear on their respective roles and responsibilities, make time for regular and constructive communication and there is a clear appraisal system in place for both roles will generally function well and can withstand a crisis. 

Our publication Leading the CEO and Chair to Effective Governance provides best practice advice on developing a constructive relationship with your Chair. 

The report of the ACEVO Governance Commission is practically-focused piece of work, that supports voluntary organisations to understand and address the issues and challenges that can affect their governance, including CEO and Chair relationships.

In our experience, relationship breakdown does not need to happen and a crisis can usually be averted or resolved internally through timely communication and sensible, structured discussions. If you feel your CEO/Chair relationship has broken down, our guidance Navigating through a crisis in your CEO and Chair relationship can help you identify the options for restoring your working relations. Please note this is an ACEVO member resource and you will need to log in to the website to access it.

If you are an ACEVO member and you feel your CEO and Chair relationship has reached crisis point and your role is at risk, please contact our CEO in Crisis service.