May 2019

Member query:

Should Board Chairs be evaluated by their Board and how?


Reply from Cathy Trower:

I firmly believe that board chairs should be evaluated and should welcome feedback. As the Chair of the BoardSource Board, I get feedback after every meeting. Board members are asked these questions (along with several others about the meeting itself):

What feedback would you give to our chair about her leadership of this meeting?

On a scale of 1-10, the Board Chair:

  1. Encourages board members to frame and discuss strategic questions.
  2. Facilitates engagement and participation from all board members.
  3. Ensures that we have clear resolution from board decisions.
  4. Helps us stay focused on board-level topics vs. straying into operations.

Some boards provide a forum for feedback to the chair as part of their periodic board self-assessment process. Even if the board does not review its performance annually, the board chair should be evaluated annually.


Here are some sample questions:

4 = Strongly agree; 3 = Agree; 2 = Disagree; 1 = Strongly disagree

  1. The Board Chair runs meetings effectively.
  2. The Board Chair is skilled at drawing everyone out appropriately at meetings.
  3. The Board Chair encourages trustees to frame and discuss strategic issues.
  4. The Board Chair effectively balances listening (letting a board dialogue take its course) with moving the discussion forward.
  5. The Board Chair has a good working relationship with trustees and build trust.
  6. From what I can see, the Board Chair has a good working relationship with the Head.
  7. The Board Chair is skilled at bringing discussions to logical conclusions.
  8. The Board Chair ensures an inclusive and equitable boardroom culture.
  9. The Board Chair is able to resolve conflict and create an atmosphere of understanding alternative points of view.
  10. The Board Chair effectively concludes meetings by summarizing what s/he heard and saying what’s next.


Please expand on any questions for which you disagreed.

What is the one thing that would make the Board Chair more effective?

Please add any comments you think might be helpful to the Board Chair.



Part 2 Member query:

Can you follow up on the questions you ask at the end of every board meeting?


Reply from Cathy Trower:

Rating: 1 to 10

The board meeting focused our time on the issues of greatest importance at this time.


Open ended

Are there any topics that weren’t on the agenda that you think should have been?


Rating: 1 to 10

The focus of the board meeting was appropriately balanced between operational and strategic/generative issues.

The board book enabled me to prepare adequately for the meeting.


Rating: 1 to 10

Overall, I felt that the time for the following activities/discussion was well spent: {NOTE: This section changes each time to include the major areas of the meeting}

  • Mission/Learning Moment: Reflecting on the Executive Retreat
  • CEO Perspectives
  • Review and Approve 2019 Plan & Budget
  • Inputs & Reflections on Approach to 2020-2022 Operating Plan
  • Small Group Discussions with the BoardSource Staff
  • Executive Session


Rating 1 to 10:

Overall, I felt that this meeting was a good use of my time.


Please select which committee(s) and task forces you are/were on.

There’s a list of task forces and committees listed here.


Rating 1 to 10:

For each committee/task force – In the past quarter, the meetings were productive and a good use of my time.

Please share any additional comments regarding committee meetings.