Committee Chair Dos and Don’ts: How to Excel

A good committee chairperson is charismatic, a good communicator and listener, and has a big-picture vision and a clear sense of direction. They are excellent facilitators with a strong governance background, solid business acumen, and broad experience. Not only do they have a comprehensive set of skills and leadership experience, but they also must stand out in their ability to bring out the best in others.

If the above paragraph describes you and you’ve been thinking about taking your board engagement and value to the next level, it might be time to explore taking on the role of a committee chair. While chairing a committee may be a more substantial time commitment than being involved as a committee member, the pros can outweigh the cons. As chairperson, you can have an even more significant impact in encouraging growth within the organization.

Before you jump into the role of a committee chair, consider the list of dos and don’ts below. They are deeply intertwined with an individual’s emotional intelligence. To effectively chair a committee, understanding and managing your emotions and those of the people around you is paramount.

Excellent Committee Chairs DO NOT

  • Make decisions without hearing out and weighing all members’ contributions.
  • Disrespect committee members’ time by arriving late, letting meetings run long, or allowing meetings to get off-topic or be unproductive.
  • Assume all committee members hold the same opinions.
  • Dominate committee meetings or allow other members to do so.
  • Allow any board member to discount another member’s opinion or input.
  • Dismiss or ignore input from other committee members.

Excellent Committee Chairs DO

  • Evaluate and assess committee member skills and encourage ongoing skills development.
  • Move from debate to decision at the right time, striving for consensus through compromise.
  • Foster open and respectful discussion and debate, inviting input from all committee members.
  • Demonstrate active listening by paraphrasing and summarizing multiple perspectives.
  • Identify committee member roles and responsibilities and set expectations upfront.
  • Encourage a collaborative culture by showing members they are valued, appreciated, and heard, regardless of their opinions or counterviewpoints.

If you are designing your board document (board resume), don’t overlook your participation in committees, whether as a committee chair or committee member! To find out how we can help you shift your executive resume to target board positions, book a complimentary and confidential call with us here.

Mary Elizabeth Bradford is the Founder and Executive Director of and and a past executive recruiter. A thought leader in the career services industry for over 20 years, she holds 5 distinct advanced certifications for senior-level resume writing, online branding and executive-level job search coaching (CERM, CMRW, CARW, MCD, NCOPE). She has been seen and heard in major media including Forbes, Time, WSJ, Newsweek and NBC affiliate stations. She holds 2 CDI TORI awards and is a top tier judge for the elite CDI TORI awards for four consecutive years. Mary Elizabeth Bradford’s elite team of award-winning, certified, top executive resume writers, former top executive recruiters, and global HR executives help many of the world’s premier C-suite, board members and thought leaders secure the transitions and compensation packages they want. She works with clients all over the globe.

If you are a Director, VP, CxO, or Board Member interested in an executive resume package or working directly with Mary Elizabeth, click to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call.