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The Role of the Board Chair During a Crisis

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The Role of the Board Chair During a Crisis

MIT Sloan Management Review,

5 min read
4 take-aways
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How can chairs help balance the company in turbulent times?

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As the COVID-19 crisis places unprecedented pressures on chief executives, the role of board chairs becomes more necessary than ever. To help chairs understand how they can best lead during times of turmoil, MIT Sloan Management Review turns to a trio of distinguished authors – Achim Schmitt, Gilbert Probst and Michael Tushmanto – who offer a concise but crucial set of recommendations.


The relationship between the board chair and the CEO represents a crucial success factor for weathering a crisis.

During a time of crisis, the board chair’s role heightens. In normal times, the chair serves as a bridge between the board and senior executives by supporting and influencing strategy execution without interfering in operations. During times of turmoil though, the chair becomes an essential support and counterweight to the CEO. The board chair and chief executive must align as to strategy and maintain a relationship of trust while complementing one another with regard to perspective.

The board chair safeguards the company...

About the Authors

Achim Schmitt, a former turnaround and bankruptcy consultant, teaches strategic management at Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Switzerland. Gilbert Probst, former managing director at the World Economic Forum, is the board chair at the Swiss Bank of Geneva and honorary professor at the University of Geneva. Founder of change logic Michael Tushman is Baker Foundation Professor, Paul R. Lawrence Professor Emeritus, and faculty chair of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

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