Michael Tait has been a chairman for numerous years and has worked with some good and bad chairmen during his years as a CEO. Michael shares this table of traits that compare good chairmen with poor ones.

Traits of a good chairman Traits of a poor chairman
Provides true inspirational leadership to the board as a whole in the management of the Board’s affairs and provides great counsel, coaching and mentoring to the executive members and the non-executives in their respective roles. Poor leader. Autocratic style. Undiplomatic and clumsy with people’s feelings. Creates a strained atmosphere among directors and in the Boardroom.
Spends sufficient time inside the business with executives and other staff members in order to gain and maintain a feel of the day to day activities and challenges of the company and therefore secures a position to offer good counsel to the team. Turns up to Board meetings without much prior engagement with the executives or other non-executive directors.
Spends time with investors and executives ahead of board meetings to hear each side’s opinions, ambitions and concerns about the business. Uses this vantage point to head off any potential conflicts and arguments at Board meetings and plans a good agenda that will get the best out of Board meetings. Hasn’t made the effort to understand how executives and investors views may differ to a point where there could be a clash at the board meeting.
Promotes and maintains an open atmosphere in the boardroom where everyone feels valued and is able to express opinions without any member having fear of being made to feel uncomfortable or foolish for their views. Dismisses opinions in a disdainful way or shoots people down in front of other Board members.
Reviews business activities with executive Board members before the board meeting and helps the executives to produce the best possible Board report and presentation prior to the Board meeting. Critiques the directors in front of investors to demonstrate who is in charge.
Maintains a true independent view and position on issues and conflicts and strives to diplomatically find solutions and agreements. Sides with investors even if they are wrong, for the sake of self-promotion or self-preservation.
Spots political situations and steps in with all diplomacy to stop this sort of negative activity and keeps everyone working together politics free. Jumps on political bandwagons.
Keeps calm and polite at all times. Loses temper and/or terse to other Board members.
Respects the delineation between the CEO and chairman roles. Assumes the CEO role when entering the building.