Imagine that your board has just finished a long, involved and somewhat heated discussion on a matter of strategic importance. The board seems divided on whether the organization should take the opportunity of expansion or whether the new initiative should be delayed. At the heart of the issue is the degree of risk that board members can handle comfortably. The motion is made and seconded. The vote is a tie. What shall the board chair do? There is little doubt in your mind how the matter will be settled. You are well aware that the chair has been pushing for this particular project behind the scenes for some time. During the discussion he has spoken forcefully in favor of the motion. You regret not saying something about your discomfort with the process. After the meeting you hear other directors expressing disappointment in the outcome. The decision is made, but the board is divided.
The process described above occurs too often in boardrooms. Board chairs often speak for or against a motion. It is even assumed in some corporate cultures that the board chair should take the leadership in pressing for the initiatives that he or she supports. In some boards the board chair may even have two votes, one when the motion is called and a second if the vote is a tie. Read more