The board’s leader is the board president. However, the board president does not have power beyond that of any other board member unless the full board has granted that power to the president. For example, the board may delegate specific powers to the board president, such as managing board meetings, speaking to the public on behalf of the board, or signing contracts on behalf of the board.
Board officers, particularly the board president, must be well respected by the rest of the board, must be willing to give the extra time necessary to carry out the extra duties of the office and must have strong leadership skills. Officers should also be experienced board members. If you are asked to be a candidate for a board office, consider carefully if you have the extra time it will take, as well as the leadership skills, to do the job well.
Traditionally, the board president has several roles:
Planner —The president works with the director to plan the meeting agenda and how the meeting will be conducted. The president keeps an overall view of the board year and ensures that the board is carrying out duties.
Presider / Facilitator—The president sees that the board follows the agenda, completes items on the agenda and that the meetings are well run. The president ensures that all board members have an opportunity to participate; attempts to get all sides of an issue fairly exposed and move the board to take action.
Delegator—Since the president usually has the power to make committee appointments, the president must have a clear understanding of each board member’s skills, strengths and interests so that effective assignments are made. It is also the president’s responsibility to make sure that committee assignments are clear and to hold the committees accountable for completing the assignment.
Liaison—The president must be able to communicate board needs and concerns to the director, and the director's needs and concerns to the board. In addition, the president offers personal support and counsel to the director, and serves as a sounding board for the director.
Team Builder—The board must always function as a team and it is the duty of the president to promote teamwork among board members. When the effectiveness of the board is at risk, the president mediates with and counsels fellow board members.